Pharyngula

It’s yet another atheist bus poll

I just don’t get it. Put a few signs with the atheist point of view on a bus, and people everywhere just freak out. Anyway, Toronto secularists are planning to slap some signs on some busses now, so this poll asks the strange question, “Should atheist groups be allowed to buy advertising space on the TTC?”. I should think that the answer to this one ought to be 100% yes — after all, what grounds do they have to discriminate against atheists? — but here’s the current results.

Yes – if religious groups can do it, why not let atheists as well? 57%
Maybe, but it depends on the wording of the advertisement. 15%
No, is it offensive to many people to see such ads in public places. 28%

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Lestina
    January 29, 2009

    It’s good to see that 30% of Canadians are against free speech.

  2. #2 Nangleator
    January 29, 2009

    Wow, I flipped it to 58% by myself.

  3. #3 AndySin
    January 29, 2009

    I live in Toronto and I cannot believe people are voting no to this! I’m starting to dislike this city more and more.

  4. #4 Rob C.
    January 29, 2009

    The angry (even violent) responses seem like an analogy to an immune response. Memetic immunology, anyone?

  5. #5 AndySin
    January 29, 2009

    I live in Toronto and I cannot believe people are voting no to this! I’m starting to dislike this city more and more.

  6. #6 Rey Fox
    January 29, 2009

    “No, is it offensive to many people to see such ads in public places. 28%”

    Your BUTT is offensive.

  7. #7 Theodore
    January 29, 2009

    LOL – Did you guys see the weather forecast next to the poll?

  8. #8 Jimminy Christmas
    January 29, 2009

    At least they acknowledge that “This is not a scientific poll”. Most of the Christianists voting to suppress free speech probably don’t even live in Canada.

  9. #9 JD
    January 29, 2009

    I want an atheist freeway…kinda like the autobahn.

  10. #10 Rey Fox
    January 29, 2009

    “No, is it offensive to many people to see such ads in public places. 28%”

    Your BUTT is offensive.

  11. #11 Die Anyway
    January 29, 2009

    The Pharyngula Effect: 59 – 14 – 27
    It’s a start but sad that we have to pharyngulate it to make our case.

  12. #12 «bønez_brigade»
    January 29, 2009

    For freedom of speech, I did vote.

    Current results:
    Freedom 60%
    Accommodationism 14%
    Censorship 26%

  13. #13 itzac
    January 29, 2009

    It’s nice to know that our existence is offensive to 26% of respondents. Truly heart warming.

  14. #14 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    This was the most disgusting public transportation sign I have ever seen. It was in Chicago around 1992 or 1993. It had three symbols: a poster about a slave auction, a swastika and a NOW “Keep Abortion Legal” sign.

    The dishonesty of this upset me enough that I bought blank stickers and a marker. On the sticker I wrote “The Nazis Outlawed Abortion”. I stickered every sign that I saw. No one stopped me.

  15. #15 ideasmaan
    January 29, 2009

    Uhh… I’ve been thinking about solutions to Freedom of Speech troubles.

    What is wrong with the following?

    http://www.reddit.com/r/ideas/comments/7tapl/proposal_for_a_new_legislation_group_veto_right/

    The thread is not long.

    I wrote it to try out an idea but so far I haven’t got any opinion as to why it would suck.

    It sucks?

  16. #16 Holbach
    January 29, 2009

    When you think of it, it is down right annoying that we have to placed in a position for approval to get the rational message across, when the religious morons just do it because their stupid majority prevails. This is just freaking “bible”, to use the substitute word for this crap. “Should atheists be allowed to ridicule the “brain rotted by religion”(clinteas) and not fear retribution by their imaginary god?”

  17. #17 Jeff Fecke
    January 29, 2009

    Actually, I read the “middle ground” answer as a “yes.” I mean, that’s pretty true — obviously if the ad was a profanity-laden rant, nobody would read it.

    That said, it’s now 61y-13m-25n, with 1% voting for Pat Buchanan.

  18. #18 Glen Davidson
    January 29, 2009

    Without all of the idiotic reactions, the whole bus ad campaign would be a boring and largely ineffective effort.

    Thank you theists for making religion look bad, secularism look good. We couldn’t do it without you.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  19. #19 abb3w
    January 29, 2009

    I also noticed this small poll, which is currently running 80-20 in favor of evolution only…

  20. #20 Jeff Fecke
    January 29, 2009

    Actually, I read the “middle ground” answer as a “yes.” I mean, that’s pretty true — obviously if the ad was a profanity-laden rant, nobody would read it.

    That said, it’s now 61y-13m-25n, with 1% voting for Pat Buchanan.

  21. #21 eric
    January 29, 2009

    #17 – absolutely right. The “yes” and “maybe” %’s should be added together because they both say, essentially, that atheists are governed by the same laws – and have the same rights – as theists

  22. #22 LisaJ
    January 29, 2009

    Oh come on Toronto! Give me an effing break. At least the yes vote is in the majority, but this showing is still quite pathetic. The atheist bus signs going up in Toronto was a big news story on the radio this morning here in Ottawa. The on air personalities were all for it under the guise of free speech, which is great, but the fact that this is such big news here really annoys me.

  23. #23 BeezleBobby
    January 29, 2009

    On CP24 poll, YES side now up to 64% Hmmm…wonder why THAT would be?

  24. #24 Alyson Miers
    January 29, 2009

    I agree with Janine; I find anti-abortion ads offensive. Does that mean I can petition to have them banned from Metro subway cars so they won’t hurt my poor liberal sensibilities?

  25. #25 Paper Hand
    January 29, 2009

    #17 – I don’t think that’s what they mean. I think what they means isn’t “Yes, as long as it’s not profane”, but “Yes, as long as it doesn’t actually criticize people’s beliefs”. So, they’re deigning to acknowledge our existence, as long as we pretend that theism is equal to atheism.

  26. #26 LightningRose
    January 29, 2009

    It’s still not too late to crash this poll which asks, “Do you think the medical use of embryonic stem cells is OK?”

    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/index.html

    As of this posting, “Yes” is behind 43% to 54%.

  27. #27 Midnight Rambler
    January 29, 2009

    FWIW, scrolling down on the page shows that they also have an article about the art exhibit “Sasquatch symbolizes female sexuality”.

  28. #28 RAM
    January 29, 2009

    This response has always indicated, to me at least, that “we” are in the same catagory as people of color many years ago.
    If you sit down and shut up in the back of the bus, everything is OK. But if you stand up and actually want the same rights as everyone else, it’s time to get the dogs and water hoses out.

  29. #29 Glen Davidson
    January 29, 2009

    Here’s something offensive on the ABE Books site:

    “Collecting the Evolution Debate
    The science versus evolution debate has created some highly collectible books. See how your collection can evolve.”

    At the time of writing this, it shows up here:

    http://www.abebooks.com/

    I’d even give them the benefit of the doubt that “science versus evolution” was probably a mistake. A pretty bad mistake, though.

    Glen D
    tinyurl.com/6mb592

  30. #30 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 29, 2009

    That’s one horribly clunky website.

  31. #31 The dancing kid
    January 29, 2009

    For people convinced they have an all-powerful being in their corner they sure can be touchy.

  32. #32 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 29, 2009

    This response has always indicated, to me at least, that “we” are in the same catagory as people of color many years ago.
    If you sit down and shut up in the back of the bus, everything is OK. But if you stand up and actually want the same rights as everyone else, it’s time to get the dogs and water hoses out.

    huuummmmm Not sure I’d try and make that strong of an analogy with race struggles.

  33. #33 Gregory Kusnick
    January 29, 2009

    #25: That’s how I read it too. The “maybe” response implies that atheist ads should be subject to an extra layer of editorial review compared to other ads.

  34. #34 Eamon Knight
    January 29, 2009

    I don’t usually Pharyngulate polls, but Toronto being my old home town….
    As someone said above, these polls don’t much reflect the views of the locale anyway.

  35. #35 Scotty B
    January 29, 2009

    Now: 68-11-21

  36. #36 young european
    January 29, 2009

    “Should atheist groups be allowed … ?”
    “Maybe, but it depends on the wording of the advertisement.”

    Actually, I read the “middle ground” answer as a “yes.” I mean, … if the ad was a profanity-laden rant, …

    How is skin color atheism relevant to the question whether profanity-laden rants should be allowed?

  37. #37 Richard Harris
    January 29, 2009

    Dancing Kid, For people convinced they have an all-powerful being in their corner they sure can be touchy.

    Give ‘em a break. That bugger’s feckin’ capricious.

  38. #38 mayhempix
    January 29, 2009

    Now at 69%.

  39. #39 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    January 29, 2009

    Jeff #1:

    It’s good to see that 30% of Canadians are against free speech.

    It is not 30% of Canadians. It is 30% of people who have visited the site. These “Web polls” are not polls.

  40. #40 Patricia, OM
    January 29, 2009

    Janine – when you start feeling your vile bitchiness persona again, hop over to: GodIsImaginary.com you can print off a page of stickers there that riles up the religious every time. My favorite thing to sticker is church signs.

  41. #41 Jordan
    January 29, 2009

    I live in Toronto. For the past several years there have been “Bus Stop Bible Study” bus and subway ads on the TTC with passages from the New Testament about the divinity of Jesus. It’s nice to see some balance headed our way.

  42. #42 eddie
    January 29, 2009

    Re #27;

    Ah, the elusive female orgasm.

    *ducks*

  43. #43 strangest brew
    January 29, 2009

    31*

    Yep for folks that spout the superiority of an all knowing all powerful all singing all dancing god of awesome power…they sure seem a tad spooky to have it challenged in any way…
    Even in silent writing on a side of a bus!

    One would think they are pretty sure that actually God is a pretty toothless old duffer and as such should be treated to care in the community !

    They threaten and holler over and over again ’bout vengeance of the lord…but seem to know they are empty threats and resort to lawyers and whining to the media about Christian intolerance and suppression!

    If that is indeed so… surely their sky daddy would sort out the nasty atheist scum that say naughty things about gods and deities ?…seems it is not the rejection all gods that irritates just that their god is also included in the legion of the damned!

    I suppose the arrogance and ignorance never stops for some folks…must be uncomfortable for them…all that intolerance and suppression and them landed with a useless critter of a god that cannot seemingly be bothered to fight his own battles!

  44. #44 HenryS
    January 29, 2009

    Well isn’t this just great!!! Snake handler in charge of expanding the “Faith Based” programs.

    “Leaders Say Obama Has Tapped Pastor for Outreach Office

    * Sign In to E-Mail
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    Article Tools Sponsored By
    By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
    Published: January 28, 2009

    President Obama plans to name Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old Pentecostal pastor and political strategist who handled religious outreach for the Obama campaign, to direct a revamped office of faith-based initiatives, according to religious leaders who have been informed about the choice.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/us/politics/29faith.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

  45. #45 Cube
    January 29, 2009

    RE# 41.

    I remember those bus ads. I remember one that really annoyed me where they used the often quote-mined Darwin quote:

    “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.” – Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 1st Ed., p. 186.

    Of course, they failed to mention that after this statement, Darwin went on for several more pages explaining how the eye could evolve through successive stages. The quote above is obviously a rhetorical question.

    Talk about false advertising…

  46. #46 Kayla
    January 29, 2009

    Currently it’s at 70% yes, 10% maybe, 20% no

  47. #47 Tualha
    January 29, 2009

    I just don’t get it. Put a few signs with the atheist point of view on a bus, and people everywhere just freak out.

    Well, duh. It’s a common reaction when someone questions a view that you can’t defend.

  48. #48 Richard Harris
    January 29, 2009

    Why are the ads just going on the TTC buses? They should be on the red rockets too.

  49. #49 RAM
    January 29, 2009

    “huuummmmm Not sure I’d try and make that strong of an analogy with race struggles.”

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, first, I’ve always enjoyed your comments and website, just saying.
    And yes, I’ll fully admit there is a “stretch factor” in my statement. However, proudly made comments from past presidents, people in power, or this example of people who are making an outcry on the ads that non-believers, (ME!), don’t have the same rights, or we are destroying the moral fabric, are not “true Americans”, etc., etc., have always left me very concerned. The list of persons in power who can even admit they are non-believers without crashing their career is almost invisable. We have a glass ceiling we need to break through……..

  50. #50 MScott
    January 29, 2009

    “No, is it offensive to many people to see such ads in public places.”

    I guess the translation is that it’s okay to offend people as long as they’re in the minority. If you’re in the majority, then those pesky minorities should be silent and not offend you.

  51. #51 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 29, 2009

    Yeah I wasn’t attacking you (and thanks for the comliements), I just think that it is a bit of a stretch. I see the connection though just think that, as an atheist I feel discriminated against, I just think it pales in comparison to many of the stories people I know have told me about growing up black in the south during the 50′s and 60′s and even somewhat today.

  52. #52 Holbach
    January 29, 2009

    Just watched this on the internet news: Rush Limbaugh wants Obama to fail and Coulter is defending Limbaugh. Crap, what a pair insane dimwits. Muck and mire.

  53. #53 Timothy
    January 29, 2009

    I don’t agree with any of those. Atheist messages should be allowed even places that religious ones are not.

  54. #54 Jim Etchison
    January 29, 2009

    It’s 71% yes now … :)

  55. #55 DutchA
    January 29, 2009

    Yes, another click for freedom of expression. Bring them on, those atheistic ads in Rush-city.

    No atheistic bus-ads here in The Netherlands, as religious bus-ads are not allowed. Billboards however… Xians are getting anxious.

  56. #56 DGKnipfer
    January 29, 2009

    RAM @49,

    Got to agree with Rev. Chimp. I’ve nver been pulled over for DWA (Driving while Atheist) but I know a few guys here at work that have been pulled over for DWB (Drivng while Black). And that’s not even in the South. We live up in Ohio.

  57. #57 The Atheist Missionary
    January 29, 2009

    I live in Owen Sound which is a two hour drive north of Toronto (Canadians always refer to distances in time rathger than distance). The usefulness of a poll such as this one is that it illustrates the popular ignorance of what the term “atheist” means. I would say that 1/3 of the approximately 28% that is currently voting other than yes are moral majority types while the other 2/3 are simply folks who connote atheism with immorality. These people don’t really oppose secularist thinking – they’re just plain dumb.

  58. #58 Linnifred
    January 29, 2009

    Thanks for breaking this dumb poll.

    If an atheist message isn’t ok, then the ZOMG! God so loves you, he’s t3h win!!!! messages aren’t either.

    CBC’s morning show in Toronto did a piece on the ads yesterday and today they ran the “reaction”. I was happily surprised at the number of “I think it’s a good idea” comments they got.

  59. #59 Sastra
    January 29, 2009

    Many believers seem to shield their belief from analysis by pretending that it’s the universal consensus: “hey, everyone believes in God!’ It’s about time they were confronted by the fact that no, not everyone believes in God. Time to wake up.

    And not everyone thinks people should believe in God, either. Apparently the existence of atheists is only acceptable to these “offended” believers if they’re encouraged to think that atheists buy into the flattering belief that faith is a wonderful thing, a virtue to be respected and encouraged — and those who don’t believe in God are a bit saddened and ashamed that they lack the necessary moral fortitude.

    That’s what really bothers them. Not only that atheists exist, but that we’re not all sitting around envying them their peace, joy, and smug self-righteousness.

  60. #60 Science
    January 29, 2009

    Another campaign is being plotted in Halifax, Canada: http://www.news957.com/news/local/article.jsp?content=20090129_155054_55204

  61. #61 Nichole
    January 29, 2009

    Inside me, I have this teenie tiny hope that someone, somewhere, will put up a poll with the hope of a pharyngula crash. If I web designed for some shitty local news outlet, I would.

  62. #62 Tulse
    January 29, 2009

    atheistbus.ca details the campaign, which will be in Toronto, Halifax, and Calgary. That last city should be especially interesting, since Alberta is the Texas of Canada, and a significant portion of the populace is Christian fundamentalist.

  63. #63 Desert Son
    January 29, 2009

    Voted.

    Now at 73% in favor of equal opportunity advertising for us godless.

    No kings,

    Robert

  64. #64 Andrés Diplotti
    January 29, 2009

    This reminds me, re the atheist bus campaign in Spain, some days ago the head honcho bishop of Madrid said the ads were insulting to Catholics and called for a “tutelated freedom of speech”. How about that?

  65. #65 RAM
    January 29, 2009

    DGKnipfer, OK, I conceed, an overblown analogy on my part,
    ;-), but, while “not pulled over while driving” is not an issue because you cannot tell an Athiest by color, I’m sure you’ve read the cases of lost jobs, workplace discrimanation, etc., I’ve run into it myself.
    Again, even name many open Athiest politicians, they know it’s a career killer, that was more my point.
    I know many of you read history, in examples not too long ago, where “we” were grouped into persons to be purged or worse. I know people think this can never happen in the good ole’ USA, but under the right, (or wrong!) conditions, I’m not so sure. The last president scared the crap out of me with the direction he was leading. Melodramatic, OK maybe………….

  66. #66 Strangest brew
    January 29, 2009

    It would appear that the decline in moderate church numbers the splintered and divisive bickering in Christian cults coupled with a seemingly rising profile of atheists that are standing up for the position finally… has made the god botherers very nervous…

    They are in no situation to deal with this rising tide of dissent against their delusion as a united front…they really are afraid!

    Not sure if it can be equated to the colour issues so redolent of recent and not so recent history…but it has the possibility to get rather nasty all the same…folks that are frightened tend to atrocity… lies… or at the very least of making life incredibly difficult for the enemy as they see it!

    False accusations…claims of intolerance and whisper campaigns are all the fundamentalist brethren have left…I expect they will use these tactics without remorse but with a great deal of desperation especially with a Democrat at the controls…tis territory they are not happy bunnies in!

  67. #67 Richard Hubbard
    January 29, 2009

    #32 huuummmmm Not sure I’d try and make that strong of an analogy with race struggles.

    I tend to believe that the outward hate directed towards atheists is not as strong as it was against blacks simply because atheism is easier to hide than skin color.

    In many places in the south, mention you are an atheist, and watch yourself get run out of town, at the very least.

  68. #68 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    They threaten and holler over and over again ’bout vengeance of the lord…but seem to know they are empty threats and resort to lawyers and whining to the media about Christian intolerance and suppression!

    There is much in the behaviour of so-called believers which has long lead me to assume they really don’t so much believe… Or at the very least that what they call ‘belief’ in their deity is rather different than most of what passes for belief in most other domains. So no one (with the possible exception of a few with odd brain disorders) really believes the god exists the way they know jumping off a cliff is likely to hurt them…

    And what’s noted here is just one of the odd dichotomies: they talk this endlessly brave game of how powerful is their deity, but seem by their actions to be very, very aware that this alleged power doesn’t so much have a thing to do with anything that happens in this world. Sure, they’ll pray, and sometimes actively for the deity’s intervention if they’re in a crisis and their sect’s approach encourages or allows this, but it looks even there like the real calculation is usually hell, why not, it’s not like it costs ‘em much but a bit of time, so they figure they might as well burn some cycles on that while they’re trying to figure out what they should really do… Prayer is invoked if the doctor says he’s got nuthin’ anyway, prayer is invoked to make you feel better, but they know the deity’s not going to sew any limbs back on, really.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: religion is usually mostly a contract to agree on a sorta shared fantasy, and actually everyone knows very well it’s a fantasy, but part of the implied social contract is you’re just not supposed to bring that up. This is agreed upon with many a wink, many a nod throughout your indoctrination, until you get it: what is critical is not so much that you believe. What is critical is that you agree to say you do, and in terms appropriate to your sect’s approach and culture.

  69. #69 karl
    January 29, 2009

    I was hoping this poll would get PZ’d. This morning when they started the poll they were commenting that it was neck ‘n’ neck. They’ll no doubt prattle on about it tonight. (CITY TV is a totally credulous tv station that always has the latest psychic or CAM scammer on.)

  70. #70 Ritchie Annand
    January 29, 2009

    We caught a brief glimpse of Cliff Erasmus (the local CFI head in Calgary) being interviewed when we were channel-surfing and caught the tail end of a piece talking about the bus ads here. I haven’t seen any angry talking heads here… yet :)

    I’m intrigued at the shock value these simple bus ads are having.

  71. #71 Chayanov
    January 29, 2009

    There is much in the behaviour of so-called believers which has long lead me to assume they really don’t so much believe… Or at the very least that what they call ‘belief’ in their deity is rather different than most of what passes for belief in most other domains. So no one (with the possible exception of a few with odd brain disorders) really believes the god exists the way they know jumping off a cliff is likely to hurt them…

    And they get ticked off at atheists whenever we point that out to them, precisely because they want to pretend that everything they “believe” or “know” is equally true or valid and they don’t like being reminded that it’s not.

  72. #72 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    … I’d add to this that I also suspect this ‘agreement to say you do’ aspect of religion is one of the reasons they do get so pissed about atheists expressing themselves… This sort of expression strikes them as more offensive even than other religions and sects saying their bit (tho’ that can get ‘em going, too) and gets under their skin more precisely because the atheist fits in a different category, and they know it too well. A rival religionist, at least, they know is playing a game like theirs, and they recognize that bond, at least. The atheist is unsporting. She or he isn’t playing along. It’s like: c’mon, the rest of us are all onboard with this game, what’s your problem? Just stop making trouble–that’s the deal, we all signed–why do you think you should be an exception?

  73. #73 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    And they get ticked off at atheists whenever we point that out to them, precisely because they want to pretend that everything they “believe” or “know” is equally true or valid and they don’t like being reminded that it’s not.

    Yeah… and that, too (was typing #72 when it came in).

  74. #74 Mewtwo_X
    January 29, 2009

    Hey, Pharyngulites… there’s another poll on this same issue running on the sister site of citynews.ca, along with a video from the newscast. If you can take some time and vote over there as well. There’s still a significant minority of “yes, Atheist ads are offensive” on the web poll.

    http://www.citynews.ca/

  75. #75 Mewtwo_X
    January 29, 2009

    Hey, Pharyngulites… there’s another poll on this same issue running on the sister site of citynews.ca, along with a video from the newscast. If you can take some time and vote over there as well. There’s still a significant minority of “yes, Atheist ads are offensive” on the web poll.

    http://www.citynews.ca/

  76. #76 Guslado
    January 29, 2009

    A little update since I voted

    Current results:
    Freedom 73%
    Accommodationism 9%
    Censorship 17%

    May logic prevail!!!

  77. #77 Sastra
    January 29, 2009

    AJ Milne #68 wrote:

    This is agreed upon with many a wink, many a nod throughout your indoctrination, until you get it: what is critical is not so much that you believe. What is critical is that you agree to say you do, and in terms appropriate to your sect’s approach and culture.

    Very well put. It’s what Daniel Dennett calls “belief in belief.”

    Atheists not only break the social contract to believe in something supernatural, but that lack of belief means that the Mutually Assured Destruction pact won’t work. Anyone who believes in one form of the supernatural can ill afford to question someone else’s beliefs too closely. We don’t have that problem — which may be one reason why they’re so desperate to try to persuade us that atheism is really a religion, and you have to have “faith” to not believe in God. They miss the protection.

    Another curious thing about this belief is how strangely little they seem to reflect on or care about any of the details of the Most-Important-Thing-In-the-World to them. What is God, exactly? What’s it made of? What is spirit? How does God do things? Where is it? Explain.

    It’s as if you’re interrupting a story to ask questions about how ‘The Little Engine That Could’ managed to talk, without a mouth or brain. It’s completely irrelevant. The only think they think about is how God acts in relationships, so that the plot moves along. That’s where their interest ends. There’s no real curiosity about the phenomenon itself– which I would think one should expect if they really, truly believed.

    This sort of “detail resistance” was noted by philosopher George Rey.

  78. #78 Chayanov
    January 29, 2009

    Great minds think alike. :)

    A rival religionist, at least, they know is playing a game like theirs, and they recognize that bond, at least. The atheist is unsporting. She or he isn’t playing along. It’s like: c’mon, the rest of us are all onboard with this game, what’s your problem? Just stop making trouble–that’s the deal, we all signed–why do you think you should be an exception?

    And when they babble on about revealed truths and experiencing the divine, they expect everyone else to take them seriously, as if their interpretation of some experience, like a dream, automatically makes it real and tangible to everyone else. Atheists don’t play along, so they whine about how they’re being persecuted by our opinions.

  79. #79 AmphipodGirl
    January 29, 2009

    Interestingly, they did not provide a choice like “No, and neither should religious groups.” (Or even, “No, buses shouldn’t have ads at all.”) Maybe some people don’t want any side in the culture wars competing for their mindspace during their commute, and “no, it’s offensive” was the closest answer they could find to their position.

  80. #80 'Tis Himself
    January 29, 2009

    Nisbet must be livid. Imagine, atheists having the unmitigated gall to actually come out of the closet and announce to the world we exist.

  81. #81 Patricia, OM
    January 29, 2009

    Yesterday during his sickening, sugar coated interview with Oprah, Ted Haggard said he felt through inner knowing that jesus had entered into to him and forgiven him. Everyone smiled and nodded at the dumbass. Christians actually expect us to believe that bullshit.

    Oh, and Ted isn’t gay. He’s complex.
    Try putting that on the side of a bus.

  82. #82 E.V.
    January 29, 2009

    In many places in the south, mention you are an atheist, and watch yourself get run out of town, at the very least.

    What can be even more insidious is having to deal with clueless proselytizers who “witness” to you. If hearing constant far-fetched tales of the miracles God has bestowed on them, and how they were once wretched non-believers just like you don’t get you on board, then threats of eternal damnation, along with a little here and now intimidation, might do the trick. If you won’t be swayed by their righteousness, revelations and love for you, then remember to lock the cat and dog in for the night, keep the autos in the garage, oh and stock up on lots of graffiti remover. It’s amazing how many fine christians are so forgiving.

  83. #83 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    Another curious thing about this belief is how strangely little they seem to reflect on or care about any of the details of the Most-Important-Thing-In-the-World to them. What is God, exactly? What’s it made of? What is spirit? How does God do things? Where is it? Explain.

    Indeed. Which also fits the reality that certain directions you might take that questioning are also just going to bump up against that whole don’t rock the boat agreement… There lies the danger noticing stuff that might cause trouble, so don’t go there. Whereas vagueness and incuriosity are safe. Sure, some theologies may encourage inquiry in a sense–’contemplation’ of the deity–but even for this there are rules, and rules meant to keep it within safe bounds. And within some religions, there are some marks of the attitude that do stick out–warnings against the making of too many books, intellectual pride, so on.

    Amusingly, in a sense, I’d say they even sorta admit it, sometimes, when you think about it. There’ll be that fairly direct instruction about faith itself being a virtue. And I think that’s where a lot of that comes from, really. It’s a tacit admission: yes, what we claim to believe, okay, you really can’t… But don’t let that stop you.

    And then there’s apologetics. The arguments are hilarious to the unbeliever, frequently obviously naive, circular, or worse, but then again, this is what you’d expect, since the point, again, isn’t really to convince anyone who isn’t already. The point is to have the appearance of having an excuse for claiming to believe what you’re supposed to. The whole title of the enterprise is oddly appropriate when you think about it.

  84. #84 Carolyn
    January 29, 2009

    @41 – Bus Stop Bible Studies, ugh. Every single #53 I take seems to have one of their ads. I love ads which assume that I just must not have heard of this Christ dude.

    If you check their web page, they’re complaining about these atheist ads, and asking for money to counter them.

    http://www.busstopbiblestudies.com/

  85. #85 HenryS
    January 29, 2009

    I am much more pissed off about US tax money going to any religion than I am about bus signs in the Netherlands. All of that Bush “Faith Based” money was fungible and without oversight. All you have to do is drive around the country and see all of the new fundie churches and “family life” centers.

  86. #86 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    ‘There lies the danger noticing stuff’ = ‘There lies the danger of noticing stuff’ (of course)…

    Re the general hilarity of apologetics, also of course, when you think about it, it’s not entirely a bad thing… ‘Long as there’s religion, there’ll always be someone like Comfort to give us a giggle. He’s an inevitable product of the whole game: the guy whose job is to defend the intellectually indefensible. And since there’s no real need for rigour in that job, and any argument, however silly, will do, there’ll always be lots and lots and lots (and lots) of silly to go around.

  87. #87 E.V.
    January 29, 2009

    Fungible is my new word of the day.

  88. #88 Chayanov
    January 29, 2009

    The whole arena of apologetics sometimes makes me wish I’d become a theologian instead of an anthropologist. Spend all your time making up stuff that sounds good, rather than do actual research. What a great racket.

  89. #89 CJO
    January 29, 2009

    Spend all your time making up stuff that sounds good, rather than do actual research. What a great racket.

    But at the end of the day you’re Ray Comfort or Bill Dembski, or someone like that. I’d rather die of black lung after 25 hard years in the mines.

  90. #90 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    The whole arena of apologetics sometimes makes me wish I’d become a theologian instead of an anthropologist. Spend all your time making up stuff that sounds good, rather than do actual research. What a great racket.

    The life of a few of the more obvious cons who’ve started NRMs sometimes seriously makes me think, too… I mean, sure, Hubbard seems to have gone more than a bit insane over the course of the thing (assuming he didn’t start that way), but geez, the moolah…

    (It is that general insanity/paranoia thing that keeps me honest, among other things, I think, tho’… Ya look at the televangelists, Smith, Hubbard, and it does look rather like pulling a con like that for any amount of time does take its toll on your very grasp of reality. Sooner or later, you con yourself, too. Better to live relatively honestly, a little less deluded, a little more stable… I guess.)

  91. #91 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    But at the end of the day you’re Ray Comfort or Bill Dembski, or someone like that. I’d rather die of black lung after 25 hard years in the mines.

    Also true. And I’d bet that some of the loathing you get from the merely honest is, now and then, at least, mirrored by more than a little self-loathing.

    So yeah. Black lung is actually probably at least a competitive deal.

  92. #92 JennyAnyDots
    January 29, 2009

    Now 75%, 9% and 17%. Yay!

  93. #93 Garrett
    January 29, 2009

    Theodore, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. It looks like Toronto is going to be getting some pretty nice weather this week. Practically balmy. My uncle would probably be sunbathing in it.

  94. #94 Patricia, OM
    January 29, 2009

    Well dip me in buttermilk, fungible is the proper word for those funds.

  95. #95 Aquaria
    January 29, 2009

    OT Austin had some pranksters hack into some of the electronic roadside message signs, and changed them to read things like NAZI ZOMBIES! RUN!!! and CAUTION! ZOMBIES AHEAD! and ZOMBIES AHEAD RUN!!!! and the typical fundie favorite, THE END IS NEAR!!!

    More info, with a video link here.

  96. #96 Timebender13
    January 29, 2009

    I dont see why some people are so threatened by atheists……..

  97. #97 Sastra
    January 29, 2009

    AJ Milne #84 wrote:

    And then there’s apologetics… The point is to have the appearance of having an excuse for claiming to believe what you’re supposed to. The whole title of the enterprise is oddly appropriate when you think about it.

    Heh, I know — I love the hidden admission there.

    Back when I used to prowl the debate rooms on IRC, I liked to enter unknown rooms with names like #apologetics with a cheery and naive-sounding “‘Apologetics?’ Hey, what you guys all so sorry about?” (or, “‘Reformed?’ Reformed from what, you been bad?”) You could hear them smacking their lips over the fresh meat, innocent and ready to be trimmed, dressed, and done brown with their searing arguments for the Faith. After a bit they realized they’d been played some, but I still thought the term “apologetics” sort of asked for it.

  98. #98 llewelly
    January 29, 2009

    Ted Haggard said he felt through inner knowing that jesus had entered into to him and forgiven him.

    Jesus? So that’s the name of his latest escort?

  99. #99 Rhysz
    January 29, 2009

    Dear PZ,

    Our religious crackpots are trying to ban it here too…. stand vast!

    Regards,
    Rhysz

  100. #100 HenryS
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: Patricia, OM | January 29, 2009 5:34 PM

    Well dip me in buttermilk, fungible is the proper word for those funds.
    ********
    I don’t know if my usage meets a strict definition but I use it in the contest of Tax dollars going for a fundie sex ed. or other “social” program and ending up paying for church buildings. It is truly amazing to see the amount of new “fundie” church construction in areas where the is no way in hell that the congregation has the financial resources to pay for it. I was hoping that with a Dem President and Dem Congress that the money would be shut off, unfortunately it looks as if the money is going to increas.

  101. #101 Grendels Dad
    January 29, 2009

    I agree that Dennett hit the nail on the head in the chapter on Belief in Belief. Especially the distinction between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Since we can never be certain about the specific content of other people?s beliefs we can never be certain of orthodoxy. But actions are more public. They can be verified. So, we can be certain of orthopraxy. And certainty is one of, if not the, highest ideals to a fundamentalist.

    I?ve seen well intentioned believers tie themselves into quite a pretty bow trying to reconcile some of the more obvious contradictions to the idea that all religions are really worshipping the same god. As long as there was some outward sign of faith, it?s all good to them. They get their orthopraxy.

    But atheists don?t give them this token nod to ritual, or devotion, or whatever they seek, so their certainty breaks down. That is why a lack of belief is so much more threatening than a belief that is merely different.

  102. #102 Chayanov
    January 29, 2009

    But at the end of the day you’re Ray Comfort or Bill Dembski, or someone like that. I’d rather die of black lung after 25 hard years in the mines.

    I agree. Darn these ethics of mine!

  103. #103 Canuck
    January 29, 2009

    Well, I just voted and the results are tilted more in our favour. And I heard on the radio today that the bus ad campaign is coming to my province, far, far away from Toronto. The radio host who interviewed the skeptics rep was very even handed. Bravo the CBC. There will be complaints around here, but there are enough free thinkers we will probably see it happen. I have colleagues who are religious, but a larger number who are atheists and who think religious people are nutters. We have contemplated organizing. Most of us on the atheist side have tenure now, so it’s time.

  104. #104 Olowkow
    January 29, 2009

    Nicely done, up to 75%. Let’s try for 98%.

  105. #105 Wade
    January 29, 2009

    I don’t get your post. Atheists can question whether there’s a god in a bus sign but CP24 shouldn’t question whether atheists should be able to do it? You’re in favour of everyone being able to question everything, aren’t you?

    CP24′s raising a debate, much like the atheists, one that might happen to displease some people, much like the atheists ads. If anything, they’re drawing attention to the atheists’ cause.

  106. #106 fcaccin
    January 29, 2009

    AJ Milne #68:

    There is much in the behaviour of so-called believers which has long lead me to assume they really don’t so much believe

    Long ago, I have come to the conclusion that the actual meaning of such a word as “believe” is not the same as “consider true”, dictionaries notwithstanding. You summed up pretty much all of it.
    On a note aside, in Genova, Italy, the campaign has been quietly wiped out, but not before it stirred the collective immune system: now you see posters on the wall saying “God exists. Even atheists know it”. For those familiar with the terminology, it makes me think that we are entering GandhiCon three -same as USA.

  107. #107 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    Back when I used to prowl the debate rooms on IRC, I liked to enter unknown rooms with names like #apologetics with a cheery and naive-sounding “‘Apologetics?’ Hey, what you guys all so sorry about?…”

    Heh. Nice.

    Apologetics: yes, this is really the argument we’re going to make. We’re sorry.

  108. #108 Ward S. Denker
    January 29, 2009

    Re: Fcaccin (#106)

    You hit on a good point here. I’m careful to avoid the word ‘belief’ for that very reason when discussing topics such as evolution. I usually say ‘accept’ the theory of evolution, rather than ‘believe in.’ The same thing occurred with the word ‘truth’ usually capitalized by fundamentalists. They’re taking words and making them their own, colloquially. It’s a form of cultural warfare of its own, one we are ill-equipped to fight.

    Large groups have been doing it for a long time. ‘Denialism’ is an word with very ugly connotations, and it’s being used by the left for that reason. I’m sure to draw fire for that, but it’s absoulutely true (which is why the comment generates angst).

  109. #109 PalmPete
    January 29, 2009

    Wade, get your crash helmet ready, you are about to have a tonne of bricks dumped on you by many far more articulate than me!

    Atheists do not question if there is a god, they know there is almost certainly no god.

    I , and I am sure other atheists here, object to the poll because we take it as a given that atheists have the same right to free speech as those who believe in fairy tales. No debate needed.

  110. #110 George
    January 29, 2009

    It is not so surprising that religious people are so afraid of atheist messages. It simply reflects that absolute doubt they have about their house of cards beliefs. When something is intellectually indefensible the only defense is intolerance and censorship of countering ideas.

  111. #111 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    Teh problem I have is that if atheists succeed in their goal of making the world atheistic, then, if history is any indication, we can expect to see a marked increase in mass murder.

  112. #112 Ward S. Denker
    January 29, 2009

    Re: PalmPete (#109)

    I don’t think Wade’s question warrants all that harsh of a reaction, do you?

    Re: Wade (#105)

    My answer is, should the majority be allowed to rule over the minority with tyranny? If our roles were reversed and atheists were in the majority, would it be right for us to demand suppression of a Christian viewpoint/speech? I contend that the First Amendment was written with precisely this kind of dilemma in mind and it protects all speech, not just speech the majority finds inoffensive. How about you?

  113. #113 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    The problem I have is that if atheists succeed in their goal of making the world atheistic, then, if history is any indication, we can expect to see a marked increase in mass murder.

  114. #114 Nerd of Redhead
    January 29, 2009

    NSchuster, you are a liar and bullshitter. But then, what else is new from deists? They are the biggest liars and killers on the planet.

  115. #115 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    The worst mass murderers in history, Stalin and Mao, were atheists. A disproportionate number of atheists were mass murderers, and vice versa. Just about every time atheists run a government, they wind up commiting mass murder. Their still at it in North Korea.

  116. #116 George
    January 29, 2009

    #111 is crazy. Since there are no atheists of any number in history the argument fails. Worse, since there is much in the way of mass murder in history always directly tied to religion – the argument is backwards.

  117. #117 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    The worst mass murderers in history, Stalin and Mao, were atheists. A disproportionate number of atheists were mass murderers, and vice versa. Just about every time atheists run a government, they wind up commiting mass murder. Their still at it in North Korea.

  118. #118 Ward S. Denker
    January 29, 2009

    Re: Nerd of Redhead (#114)

    I believe you mean ‘theists.’ Deists believe that there is a god but don’t believe that deity influences the universe in any way aside from having created it. They represent the greatest application of agnosticism about religion while still believing in a deity.

    N. Schuster is obviously being a troll crank and what he said was baiting.

  119. #119 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    Seems pretty clear to me, too, it’s less the question PZ’s peeved with as the answer of a certain subset…

    But then this, too, is a standard religious confusion of late. ‘Ask any question’ shall be sneakily extended to mean ‘And any answer, however poor, shall not be criticized.’

  120. #120 Laser Potato
    January 29, 2009

    And right on cue, N.Schuster invokes Doggerel #114.
    http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2007/07/doggerel-114-communists.html

  121. #121 PalmPete
    January 29, 2009

    N. Schuster,
    Do you mean like the recent xian mass murders in Rwanda and the Balkans?

    And that’s only in the last ten years or so.

  122. #122 Wowbagger
    January 29, 2009

    N.Schuster = Poe?

  123. #123 Laser Potato
    January 29, 2009

    Just watch, he’ll declare all the atrocities historically commited by Christians (the Inqisition, etc.) to be No True Scotsman.

  124. #124 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    George:

    The leaders of every communist country where the mass murders took place were all atheists. Should I provide a list?

  125. #125 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 29, 2009

    The worst mass murderers in history, Stalin and Mao, were atheists. A disproportionate number of atheists were mass murderers, and vice versa. Just about every time atheists run a government, they wind up commiting mass murder. Their still at it in North Korea.

    The word you are looking for is Communists. That and the cult of personality they built around themselves.

    Their atheism has nothing to do with it.

    Tell me what being an atheist says about totalitarianism and killing?

    What in the definition of atheism says you must do that?

    By even making that argument you’re pretty much screaming out

    “I have a very narrow myopic understanding of history.”

  126. #126 Ward S. Denker
    January 29, 2009

    Re: Wowbagger (#122)

    Can’t be, the rhetoric is identical so it can hardly be mistaken for a parody.

  127. #127 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    Religious people have done bad things, its true. but nobody kills like an atheist. And the brands opf communism practised by the different communist countries were all so diffenrent that I don’t think that they can be cosidered a common factor. The only common factor is atheism.

  128. #128 D.Finch
    January 29, 2009

    The bus strike in Ottawa is over! Now let’s gets some atheist ads on those vehicles… Toronto can’t have *all* the fun!

  129. #129 Mark
    January 29, 2009

    New numbers
    YES 78%
    Maybe 8%
    No 16%

  130. #130 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    Religious people have done bad things, its true. but nobody kills like an atheist. And the brands opf communism practised by the different communist countries were all so diffenrent that I don’t think that they can be cosidered a common factor. The only common factor is atheism.

  131. #131 PalmPete
    January 29, 2009

    N.Schuster
    God obviously knew that Stalin, and Mao were atheist murderers, that’s why he turned them into pillars of salt and silenced the atheists once and for all.

    No, hang on a minute. He didn’t.

    This must mean, either He didn’t know (but He’s All-Knowing) couldn’t do the pillar of salt trick anymore (but He is omnipotent) or just didn’t care (but He’s such a compassionate god who IS love).

    But,the real reason though is that God is just a fairy tale after all.

  132. #132 Christopher Risi
    January 29, 2009

    http://www.bttoronto.ca/poll/?p=1&id=1106

    The poll on breakfast television about the same issue says that 47% of people find it offensive! :(

  133. #133 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    Only a fool would deny that they were brutal dictators. And only a fool would argue that the murder were not for reasons of a brutal political ideology. The fact they were atheist is ultimately incidental.

    N. Schulster, get prepared to have your head handed back to you as well as have a new asshole ripped for you. Congratulations. You are the troll du jour for tonight.

  134. #134 LisaJ
    January 29, 2009

    D Finch @128: what?! Are you serious? I knew there was a vote happening today, but I never expected this strike would ever be over! Thanks for brightening my evening.

  135. #135 Nerd of Redhead
    January 29, 2009

    NSchuster, the religious start lying by saying god exists. It goes downhill fast from there. The bible is a lie. Their alleged biblical morals are lies. When does it stop? When god goes from between their ears. Then they stop lying.

  136. #136 'Tis Himself
    January 29, 2009

    HenryS #100

    I don’t know if my usage [of fungible] meets a strict definition but I use it in the contest of Tax dollars going for a fundie sex ed. or other “social” program and ending up paying for church buildings.

    As Pharyngula’s token economist I assure you that your use of fungible is acceptable. A fungible item is returnable or negotiable in kind or by substitution, i.e., a quantity of grain substituted for an equal amount of the same kind of grain. In the case you cite, currency designated for one purpose is being substituted for currency designated for another purpose.

  137. #137 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    And who cares if atheism is a motivating factor in the mass murder? The people they killed are just as dead. Are you willing to take a chance, when the numbers are against you?

  138. #138 Laser Potato
    January 29, 2009

    “Religious people have done bad things, its true. but nobody kills like an atheist.”
    Translation: any and all atrocities commited in the name of Christianity are irrelevant because…uh…COMMUNISTS!

  139. #139 D.Finch
    January 29, 2009

    What is it with Christians and death tallies? “Dictator x killed x amount of people, x kids dies because of x idea, feminists kill x amount of babies…”.

    Just so we’re clear, I also dislike “religion killed x amount of people”. Comparing death tallies is a historical pissing contest that leads nowhere. How far back do you go to calculate these things? Does a natural disaster count as an act of God ? Or is it scientific negligence? What if the most devout Christian turns out to be a mass murdering pedophile? What if a monarchy associated to religion is overthrown? Is it an atheist revolution or a coup d’etat? Should we start asking every maniac that comes along: “Excuse me, do you have a belief system in particular or are you just bat-shit crazy? We’re trying to keep score, you see.”

  140. #140 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: N.Schuster | January 29, 2009

    Religious people have done bad things, its true. but nobody kills like an atheist. And the brands opf communism practised by the different communist countries were all so diffenrent that I don’t think that they can be cosidered a common factor. The only common factor is atheism.

    Wrong! The only common factor is keeping power.

  141. #141 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    And who cares if atheism is a motivating factor in the mass murder? The people they killed are just as dead. Are you willing to take a chance, when the numbers are against you?

  142. #142 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    Of course, Schuster has seized upon only one commonality between Mao and Stalin: that of their atheism.

    They have another: they were both in favour of censorship. And since I note from his very first post Schuster himself is also in this camp, I must conclude by his very own logic that he, too, is a potential mass murderer…

    NS, you’d probably better report yourself to law enforcement, as a preventative measure. Remember: this is your own logic here. And thus clearly irrefutable.

  143. #143 Cube
    January 29, 2009

    Haha, I am watching CP24 right now, and they are talking about the web poll. I wonder if they will suspect anything! :). Keep those yes votes coming. I’ll let you know if they say anything about the results on the air.

  144. #144 Mal Adapted
    January 29, 2009

    Online polls are for crashing. It’s down to 16% “no” now 8^).

  145. #145 Sastra
    January 29, 2009

    N. Schuster #113 wrote:

    The problem I have is that if atheists succeed in their goal of making the world atheistic, then, if history is any indication, we can expect to see a marked increase in mass murder.

    “Atheism” is too broad a category; same for “theism.” Neither one are complete philosophies or world views.

    There are no instances of totalitarian repression done in the name of ‘secular humanism’ — which is based on the principles of human rights, democracy, reason, science, tolerance, and open inquiry. I would not expect to see a marked increase in mass murder in societies with those values — whether they were theistic, or nontheistic.

    Actually, a society which was secular and humanistic wouldn’t be an “atheist” society — even if everyone in it happened to be an atheist. Humanists are in favor of church-state separation — even if they’re in the majority. Imagine that.

    It would be a secular society. Like the U.S., only without the constant government prayer.

  146. #146 'Tis Himself
    January 29, 2009

    N.Schuster 142

    And who cares if atheism is a motivating factor in the mass murder?

    Now show that atheism was a motivating factor in the mass murders. Give examples where Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. announced that they were killing people in the name of atheism. You’re the one making the claim, so it’s up to you to give evidence to support that claim.

  147. #147 N.Schuster
    January 29, 2009

    I never said that I;m in favor of censorship. I’m just worried about the consequences.

    And Janine:

    So why don’t theistic people kill like atheist to keep power?

  148. #148 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    The death total is a poor basis for an argument. You have to ignore that modern technology allows for a larger population and more effective weapons for killing. Imagine the destruction that could have been done during the Crusades or The Thirty Years Wars if they had modern weapon. Say, those were religious conflicts.

  149. #149 'Tis Himself
    January 29, 2009

    N.Schuster

    So why don’t theistic people kill like atheist to keep power?

    Ever hear of the Inquisition? How about jihad? Did you know that the Thirty Years War was fought between the Catholics and Protestants and caused the death of about one-third the population of Central Europe?

    Go learn some history and then come back to us.

  150. #150 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    Posted by: N.Schuster | January 29, 2009

    And Janine:

    So why don’t theistic people kill like atheist to keep power?

    I am going to use one of Mark Twain’s favorite examples of just how inhuman religious people can be to each other. St Batholomew’s Day Massacre.

  151. #151 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    Also, I am sure there are people here who could go off about the peaceful history of the Vatican City.

  152. #152 Aquaria
    January 29, 2009

    Ah, NS resorts to a variation on that golden oldie so old it’s moldy, Pascal’s Wager. It calls for using another variant back, methinks:

    NS, you Christians have killed a lot of people in comparison to the Hindus, but who cares if Christian delusion was the motivating factor in Christians committing mass murders. The people they killed are just as dead. Are you willing to deny that Vishnu is the supreme deity, when the numbers of murdered are against you?

  153. #153 Steve_C
    January 29, 2009

    Schuster. You dumb ass. Atheism isn’t a political system or a form of governance… there is nothing in atheism that would compel you to commit mass murder.

    Find me any mass killings done in the name of godlessness… try.

    I bet you can’t name one off the top of your head.

    But we can all name theists and cultists who have killed in the the name of god.

  154. #154 Pierce R. Butler
    January 29, 2009

    Look around, ye sinners, and behold the fruits of thy labor!

    The more atheism has manifested, the more our economy has collapsed.

    Secularists love to preach about “cause and effect”, yet fail to see the consequences of the Divine Wrath they – you! – have provoked in just the law few months.

    Stop it, before you kill us all!

    If the vocal atheists of Britain, Canada, the US and all other lands where this conspiracy of blasphemy has spread, refuse to advertise their repentance on public transport wheresoever they have flaunted their disrespect for the Lord o’ Lords?, on or before His next Birthday, the God-fearing citizens of all nations will be bound in their own defense to ensure such repentance, by torch and pitchfork if necessary (or tar and feathers, budgets permitting).

  155. #155 PalmPete
    January 29, 2009

    N Schuster
    in # 148 you asked “So why don’t theistic people kill like atheist to keep power?”

    I had already provided examples of very recent Xian mass murder in my post#121.

    Proof yet again that godbots don’t read before they post

  156. #156 'Tis Himself
    January 29, 2009

    I am trying to decide if Pierce R. Butler is a Poe or an asshole. Right now I’m leaning towards both.

  157. #157 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself, Pierce R. Butler trademarked Lord. It is satire.

  158. #158 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    I never said that I’m in favor of censorship. I’m just worried about the consequences…

    Heh. ‘Worried about the consequences’. Cute.

    But NS, don’t you see? This, too, is a commonality you must consider. Mao was ‘worried about the consequences’ of ‘reactionaries’ voicing their opinions… Stalin was ‘worried about the consequences’ (no doubt) of folk pointing out he was, in fact, purging pretty much everyone not actually named Josef Stalin…

    So dude, I’m serious. It’s your own conclusion. You’re clearly imminently in danger of shipping everyone in this forum to Siberia. Can’t be too careful. Check yourself in downtown, man.

    (Also: you’re all carbon-based… I presume. Could be significant. Check it out, dig?)

    I am trying to decide if Pierce R. Butler is a Poe or an asshole. Right now I’m leaning towards both.

    Dunno. But NS, if you are a Poe, can I ask you to do the ‘religion is necessary for morality’ thing, too? That’s always a scream, and should be perfect after this setup.

  159. #159 Ken Karp
    January 29, 2009

    As of 1/28/09 19:53 ET, the results are:

    Yes ? if religious groups can do it, why not let atheists as well? 76%
    Maybe, but it depends on the wording of the advertisement. 8%
    No, is it offensive to many people to see such ads in public places. 15%

  160. #160 Rev. BigDumbChimp,
    January 29, 2009

    So why don’t theistic people kill like atheist to keep power?

    You are an idiot.

  161. #161 Oldfogey
    January 29, 2009

    Ignoring the troll for a while, what I am finding fascinating is the difference in response to Atheist Bus here in the UK to that over in North America.

    There you seem to have quite a heated debate going – a lot of theists getting really riled and vociferous. And, as someone said, to get anywhere in politics it is essential to present yourself as a Christian.

    In the UK we have had some mild debate, an attempt by one of the looney groups to get the ads withdrawn as false advertising (thrown out after the shortest polite interval), and a bus driver who refused to drive the bus on conscience grounds. The bus co. refused to bite, patted him on the head, and said they would schedule him elsewhere, thus leaving no martyr.

    Furthermore, the leader of our third political party (potentially holding the balance of power after the next election) calmly said he was an atheist when asked, and nobody has paid any attention. The public were much more concerned that Tony Blair WAS religious – he kept it as quiet as possible, and then converted to Catholicism after he left the job.

    On this issue at least, I am very glad to live in this country.

  162. #162 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 29, 2009

    I apologize ahead of time for this.

    Really I do.

    As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.

    Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.

    Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.

    Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as “temple destroyer.” [DA468]

    Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]

    Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
    According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…”

    In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.

    In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]

    The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.
    [DO19-25]

    Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]

    Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]

    15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Number of victims unknown. [DO30]

    16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops “pacified and civilized” Ireland, where only Gaelic “wild Irish”, “unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing.” One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that “the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies… and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie”, which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused “greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde”.
    Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

    First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]

    Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23]

    9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then Turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]

    Until January 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]

    After 6/3/98 Antiochia (then Turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women and children) killed.
    [WW32-35]
    Here the Christians “did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy's] tents – save that they ran their lances through their bellies,” according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]

    Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians” said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]

    Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (Jewish, Muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]
    In the words of one witness: “there [in front of Solomon's temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes”, and after that “happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour’s tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude.”

    The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished.” [TG79]

    Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that “even the following summer in all of Palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition”. One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]

    Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered “in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. [WW45]

    Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]

    Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

    Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]

    Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]

    Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]
    The Albigensians (Cathars) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept Roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]
    Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (the greatest single mass murderer prior to the Nazi era) in 1209. Beziérs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Number of victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic
    neighbors and friends) estimated between 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]
    Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]

    Subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]

    After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324.
    [WW183]

    Estimated one million victims (Cathar heresy alone), [WW183]

    Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).

    Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada, a former Dominican friar, allegedly was responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]

    John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]

    Michael Sattler, leader of a baptist community, was burned at the stake in Rottenburg, Germany, May 20, 1527. Several days later his wife and other follwers were also executed. [KM]

    University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]

    Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.

    Thomas Aikenhead, a twenty-year-old scottish student of Edinburgh University, was hanged for atheism and blasphemy.

    From the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.

    In the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged.
    [WV]

    15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain. [DO30]

    1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]

    1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. [DO31]
    Between 5000 and 6000 Protestants were drowned by Spanish Catholic Troops, “a disaster the burghers of Emden first realized when several thousand broad-brimmed Dutch hats floated by.” [SH216]

    1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]

    17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, “cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals… and then dumped him into the river [...but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [... and] dragged what was left … to the gallows of Montfaulcon, ‘to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows’.” [SH191]

    17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. “In a single church fifty women were found beheaded,” reported poet Friedrich Schiller, “and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.” [SH191]

    17th century 30 years’ war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]

    Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians.Number of Jews slain unknown.

    In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]

    694 17. Council of Toledo: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]

    1010 The Bishop of Limoges (France) had the cities’ Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]

    1096 First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]

    1147 Second Crusade: Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]

    1189/90 Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked. [DO40]

    1235, Fulda/Germany: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]

    1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]

    1290 Bohemia (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]

    1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]

    1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]

    1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]

    1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]

    1391 Seville’s Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored “badges of shame” that all Jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.

    1492 In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492.
    [MM470-476]

    1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain.
    [DO43]

    Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.

    Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants … [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion.” [SH200]
    While Columbus described the Indians as “idolators” and “slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order,” his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as “beasts” because “they eat when they are hungry,” and made love “openly whenever they feel like it.” [SH204-205]

    On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, “making the declarations that are required” – the requerimiento – to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And “nobody objected.” If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

    “I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you … and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church … and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.” [SH66]

    Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: “justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England … to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, … and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ.” [SH235]

    In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.” [SH109,238]

    On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]

    The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and Spanish raids.
    As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69]

    The Indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As “they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.” [SH70]

    What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:
    “The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties … They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles… then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive.” [SH72]
    Or, on another occasion:
    “The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]

    The “island’s population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “the Caribbean’s millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. [SH72-73] “In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.” [SH75]

    “And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitlán [Mexico city] was next.” [SH75]

    Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other Spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).

    “When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.”
    [SH95]

    Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: “Their Warres are farre less bloudy…”, so that there usually was “no great slawter of nether side”. Indeed, “they might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]

    In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown – “being idell … did runne away unto the Indyans,” – to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem).
    “Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: ‘Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe’.” [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow Englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no
    choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community” down. [SH105]

    On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the “Peqout War.” The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England.

    When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge they attacked.
    Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.
    The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished … God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven … Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies”: men, women, children. [SH113-114]

    So “the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance”. [SH111].

    Because of his readers’ assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow:
    “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut 20)

    Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers” yet reassured his readers that “sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents”. [SH114]

    Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists’ own words: “blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them.” (This was inspired by Spanish methods of the time)
    In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. [SH107-119]

    The surviving handful of Indians “were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for ‘a share’ of the captives, specifically ‘a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good’.” [SH115]

    Other tribes were to follow the same path.

    Comment the Christian exterminators: “God’s Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty!”
    “Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!” [TA]

    Like today, lying was morally acceptable to Christians then. “Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians ‘grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie’, advised the Council of State in Virginia, ‘we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne’.” [SH106]

    In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]

    In a single massacre in “King Philip’s War” of 1675 and 1676 some “600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a ‘barbeque’.” [SH115]

    To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive – a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 – 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about
    30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 – 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive – 81% destroyed. [SH118] These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then.

    All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun.

    A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.

    In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today.

    Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England’s most esteemed religious leaders, in “1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs ‘to hunt Indians as they do bears’.” [SH241]

    Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church (“I long to be wading in gore” had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs’ waving with a white flag: 400-500 killed.
    From an eye-witness account: “There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed …” [SH131]

    By the 1860s, “in Hawai’i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands’ native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to ‘the amputation of diseased members of the body’.”
    [SH244]

    References:

    [DA] K.Deschner, Abermals krähte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962.

    [DO] K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987.

    [EC] P.W.Edbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985.

    [EJ] S.Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, Madison 1977.

    [HA] Hunter, M., Wootton, D., Atheism from the Reformation to the
    Enlightenment, Oxford 1992.

    [KM] Schröder-Kappus, E., Wagner, W., Michael Sattler. Ein Märtyrer in
    Rottenburg, Tübingen, TVT Media 1992.

    [LI] H.C.Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961.

    [MM] M.Margolis, A.Marx, A History of the Jewish People.

    [MV] A.Manhattan, The Vatican’s Holocaust, Springfield 1986.
    See also V.Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.

    [NC] J.T.Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic
    Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992.

    [S2] Newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany, 10/10/96, 12:00.

    [SH] D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.

    [SP] German news magazine Der Spiegel, no.49, 12/2/1996.

    [TA] A True Account of the Most Considerable Occurrences that have Hapned in the Warre Between the English and the Indians in New England, London 1676.

    [TG] F.Turner, Beyond Geography, New York 1980.

    [WW] H.Wollschläger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zürich 1973. (This is in german and what is worse, it is out of print. But it is the best I ever read about crusades and includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers’ writings).

    [WV] Estimates on the number of executed witches:

    N.Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch Hunt, Frogmore 1976, 253.
    R.H.Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, New York 1959, 180.
    J.B.Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Ithaca/NY 1972, 39.
    H.Zwetsloot, Friedrich Spee und die Hexenprozesse, Trier 1954, 56.

  163. #163 Kagato
    January 29, 2009

    Ward, I’m going to have to call you on this:

    ‘Denialism’ is an word with very ugly connotations, and it’s being used by the left for that reason. I’m sure to draw fire for that, but it’s absoulutely true (which is why the comment generates angst).

    (underlining is mine.)

    1) You can’t simply declare that the motivation you’ve assumed for another person’s comment is “absolutely true”.

    2) While the term’s use may have originated in describing Holocaust denial, the general meaning used there is equally applicable under other circumstances. It’s in common usage for a variety of purposes; do a Google search for “denialism” and you might be surprised by the lack of Holocaust references on the first page of hits. Instead you’ll find AIDS denial, AGW denial, and definitions; such as:

    …the term used to describe the position of governments, political parties, business groups, interest groups, or individuals who reject propositions on which a scientific or scholarly consensus exists. (Wikipedia)

    …the practice of creating the illusion of debate when there is none. (Denialism.com)

    3) Attributing false motives to someone is far more likely to raise their ire than correctly identifying them. For example:

    “People are only ‘atheists’ because they are angry at God; it’s absolutely true which is why saying so generates angst.”

  164. #164 Wowbagger
    January 29, 2009

    N.Schuster,

    Mao, Stalin et al. were probably all aunicornists as well – does that mean we should all believe in unicorns to prevent murder? How about leprechauns? The Invisible Pink Unicorn? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

    And what do you think of the fact that Christians killed over 600,000 Americans in the US Civil War?

  165. #165 Laser Potato
    January 29, 2009

    #163: Just watch N.Schuster say they don’t count because they were not True Christians(TM) because they were Catholic, or Proestant, or were of the wrong denomination, or put ketchup on thier eggs or not.

  166. #166 E.V.
    January 29, 2009

    N.Shuster:
    Can your fucked up bias be any more egregious?
    Who the hell wants to make the world atheistic? We want secularism in government, not a theocracy. If you want to believe in Gods, elves, fairies or ghosts, no problem. Start dictating that anyone who doesn’t believe in what you believe should be silenced or forced to comply, THEN we have a problem. You’re a moralist? Then govern your own morals. See if your house passes the white glove test. Witness by example not lip service.
    I’m wasting my time writing this because you don’t have a clue about how much you don’t know. You are TSTKYS. And you probably think you’re such a great guy. (hint: you’re not as nice or bright as you think you are)
    I’ll say goodbye and good riddance, you waste of space.

  167. #167 Monado
    January 29, 2009

    It’s very simple. The existence of a Christianity-founding Jesus is the sacred cow of our culture and any lack of respect makes believers break out in a sweat.

  168. #168 Weemaryanne
    January 29, 2009

    @ fcaccin #106: GandhiCon Three?…

  169. #169 Steven Dunlap
    January 29, 2009

    YES 77%
    MAYBE 8%
    NO 15%

  170. #170 Monado in Toronto
    January 29, 2009

    I think “tutelated freedom of speech” means “You can have freedom of speech unless we disagree with you.”

    CP 24 is the local ambulance-chasers.

  171. #171 Pierce R. Butler
    January 29, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself @ # 158: I am trying to decide if Pierce R. Butler is a Poe or an asshole. Right now I’m leaning towards both.

    Thank you for not limiting my options.

    Janine, Leftist Bozo @ # 158: Pierce R. Butler trademarked Lord. It is satire.

    No, I trademarked Lord o’ Lords? – that other one is already taken. Better yet, lordolords.com seems to be available too!

  172. #172 fcaccin
    January 29, 2009

    Re #169: GandhiCon:
    http://catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/G/GandhiCon.html

    There.
    Still learning about proper tag usage.

  173. #173 Cube
    January 29, 2009

    80% anyone?… 80%….do i hear 80%?

    If you look at the previous polls, there are significantly more responses for this one than normal… good stuff!

  174. #174 Matt
    January 29, 2009

    Yes–anyone should be able to purchase ad space on a bus. But I’m not entirely sold that it’s a good idea to plaster atheistic conclusions on board public transportation. This new brand of atheistic evangelism is quite distasteful. It is the religious with their many observances who are required to proclaim their unfounded beliefs in order to spread and propagate their insidious message. Atheism, on the other hand, is arrived at in quite a different manner. Atheists do not need to–and should not be inclined to–profligate their non-belief. Instead, all that is required to do is to present the evidence. This evidence, when subjected to critical thought and testing will nucleate an inevitable process. If reason is to prevail, it will be because humanity chooses to embrace it, not because it has been forced upon us.

  175. #175 Monado in Toronto
    January 29, 2009

    Some of the earlier posters have hit the nail very much on the head. If a “believer” (in whatever) has a nagging doubt, convincing someone else to agree tends to suppress that doubt for a little while. The constant nagging to agree with them, convert, take their silly self-delusions as objective reality, isn’t for you?it’s for them.

  176. #176 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 29, 2009

    Fine, Pierce. I still call satire.

  177. #177 AJ Milne
    January 29, 2009

    Thank you for not limiting my options…

    Oh, man, I didn’t even notice he was talking about you… That was just… too… ummm…

    Okay. I don’t know what that is.

  178. #178 Sastra
    January 29, 2009

    Matt #175 wrote:

    Atheists do not need to–and should not be inclined to–profligate their non-belief. Instead, all that is required to do is to present the evidence.

    My understanding is that there are several purposes for the ads. The first is that they usually advertise a particular group that people can check out and join. I’m going to assume you think that’s fair, and a good reason to have an ad.

    Another reason is to give confidence to atheists who are still “in the closet.” ‘No, you are not alone.’ Especially in N. America, that can come as a major relief to some people.

    Third, it gives a bit of visibility to atheists as fellow citizens who think their views are reasonable enough to bear stating on bus adverts. That’s a pretty low bar, but even this seems to bother some religious folks. Those who are bothered need to be exposed to it some more, then, so they can calm down, get used to it, and gain a bit more perspective. There’s a bunch of us.

    And fourth, it might provoke some thought and interest on the issue itself, and hopefully inspire or lead to some reasonable conclusions down the road. I’m not sure exactly how you think atheists should “present the evidence” if they’re more or less invisible. Though I agree that people aren’t going to be slain in the spirit by a sign on a bus.

  179. #179 Pierce R. Butler
    January 29, 2009

    Bless you, Janine, Leftist Bozo!

  180. #180 The Tim Channel
    January 29, 2009

    If reason is to prevail, it will be because humanity chooses to embrace it, not because it has been forced upon us.

    Reason prevails because it is reasonable, true, verifiable and just. There is no need to force it, nor can the mere advertisement of it’s virtues be conceived as ‘force’. Concern trolling is not as fashionable as it once was. Be they not afraid, they not be.

    Enjoy.

  181. #181 Wowbagger
    January 29, 2009

    Too many of the religious lie about what atheism is and misrepresent how atheists behave. The posters serve to remind people that atheists exists, atheism is a valid option and that there are reasons that people come to that conlcusion.

    I agree it’s going to have no effect whatsoever on the deeply religious. But to the fence-sitters, on the other hand, it might make all the difference in the world.

  182. #182 Caveat
    January 29, 2009

    Looking better (and more Canadian) now:

    Should atheist groups be allowed to buy advertising space on the TTC?
    Yes 77%
    Maybe 8%
    No 15%

    Followup question I’d like to see:

    Do you think Christian groups should be able to buy advertising on the TTC?

    Then:

    Do you think people who want to get a message out to the public should be able to…well, you know….

  183. #183 Crudely Wrott
    January 29, 2009

    77% say Yeah!
    Awesome, even though not surprising.

    15% say Waaah! My offense is worthy of state recognition and the passage of law to prevent it.
    We should expect to suffer this 15%, this remnant, for as long as we are capable of suffering.

    I expect 85% + before midnight. May my expectations be modest.

  184. #184 Crudely Wrott
    January 29, 2009

    N. Schuster, you need to pay attention to what actually happens as opposed to what you would like to have happened.

    @ your comment 142: What numbers? Record them here for our edification.

    @ your comment 148: Atheist have little political power as compared to theists. Look about you. It is the theists who have a hold on power that they wish to keep, not atheists. So your question would more accurately be posed in these terms: “So why don’t theistic people kill more atheists to keep their power?” Please, man, pay attention!

    And to the Very Revved Up Big Dumb Chimp in comment 163: Nice rap sheet!! I bet you have had that baby in soak for a while, waiting for a moment like this. Nice, friend. Got me grinnin’.

  185. #185 Guy Incognito
    January 29, 2009

    Their still at it in North Korea.

    I’m sorry, but I must protest your inclusion of North Korea amongst atheist states. It is well known that North Koreans have many supernatural beliefs concerning Kim Il-sung and his son, Jong-il. One belief is that cranes descended from heaven to retrieve Il-sung’s body after his death, but were so moved by the sorrow of the people that they instead transported it to the palace where it lies in state to this day. Animals reportedly wept. Another is that Jong-il’s birth on the slopes of sacred Mount Paek-du was heralded by a shining star (sounds familiar) and a talking bird that prophesied he would become general of the world. Il-sung even invented a near religion called Juche, a knock-off of Confucianism, which demands worship of himself and his son. The North Korean government supposedly uses a Juche calendar in which year one is the year of Il-sung’s birth (once again, sounds familiar).

  186. #186 Crudely Wrott
    January 29, 2009

    Kim Jong Il expects veneration, Guy Incognito. After all, his dad demanded and received it as the just recognition of a society steeped in paranoia and self denial. All allegiance to the State! Kinda like all allegiance to the phantom spook son of a phantom spook daddy.

    And Kim gets it, by virtue of a population enclosed and fully segregated. Poor fools.

  187. #187 Al Sweigart
    January 29, 2009

    Ah, but here’s how it works:

    1) Completely unscientific poll is put on the web asking if atheists/agnostics are Nazis or Super-Nazis.

    2) Atheists/agnostics flood the site (it is, after all, a completely unscientific poll.)

    3) Site maintainers see this, and then toss out the votes and set it to some arbitrary value. It is, after all, a completely unscientific poll.

    I hate web polls.

  188. #188 Crudely Wrott
    January 30, 2009

    Much as I dislike the admission, I think you are correct, Al Sweigart.

    Again. “We live in a world of symbols and abstractions, and many a man dies by his own cliches.”

    The chief argument against theists is that there is no practical way that they can be privy to the workings of an unlimited mind. Despite their claims. Despite old books. Despite common agreement.

    Our minds are, admittedly, limited.. So much for claims of what dog swills.

  189. #189 raven
    January 30, 2009

    N. Shuster the clown:

    The worst mass murderers in history, Stalin and Mao, were atheists. A disproportionate number of atheists were mass murderers, and vice versa. Just about every time atheists run a government, they wind up commiting mass murder. Their still at it in North Korea.

    Gee, you left out Hitler and the Nazis. Could that be because Hitler was a catholic and his henchmen were all good catholics and lutherans?

    One of the bloodiest wars in history was the Taiping Rebellion which killed 20 million people. It was started by a Chinese xian. We won’t even detail the New Word genocide by the European colonists or the bloody 400 year conflict between catholics and protestants. Or the continuing conflicts in the ME involving Moslems.

  190. #190 bastion of sass
    January 30, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp @ #163:

    It’s sure a darn good thing that the God-loving religious folk you listed weren’t atheists, because then they would have had nothing to stop them from doing all sorts of immoral and violent stuff like killing–and not just a few, but thousands of people! Or torturing, or murdering children, or destroying religious buildings, or lying, or stealing, or cheating, or…

    …No…wait…!

  191. #191 raven
    January 30, 2009

    N. Schuster confused and stupid:

    And who cares if atheism is a motivating factor in the mass murder? The people they killed are just as dead. Are you willing to take a chance, when the numbers are against you?

    That is what makes the religious so scary. They kill often. Ask the dead of The World Trade Center about it or the dead in Northern Ireland or the Middle East, Iraq or Israel/Palestine.

    The latest victim of religious murder…the US economy. We don’t have to go too far back in history to see what toxic religion can do, the last 8 years of the Bush regime is far enough.

  192. #192 baryogenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Crap. Between working and pouring a few down my throat, I missed this until now.Being a local T.O.’nian, I too am surprised by the results until the poll was Pharyngulized.
    Of course as we know, polls are skewed for many reasons, a couple of major ones being the perception of what the term atheist means and the people who might hit on that particular news web site.
    Great job, all!

  193. #193 Dunc
    January 30, 2009

    Atheists do not need to–and should not be inclined to–profligate their non-belief

    Profligate? I believe the word you were looking for was “promulgate”. “Profligate” isn’t even a verb – it’s an adjective meaning “extravagant”.

  194. #194 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    Re: Kagato (#164)

    Seeing as you’re aware of the term’s roots, why defend its use? It doesn’t become magically white-washed simply because someone edited a Wikipedia article. The term was chosen to elicit an emotional response from detractors.

    ‘Skepticism’ is a perfectly good word and is descriptive without being demeaning. It has no such roots.

  195. #195 Kagato
    January 30, 2009

    Seeing as you’re aware of the term’s roots, why defend its use? It doesn’t become magically white-washed simply because someone edited a Wikipedia article. The term was chosen to elicit an emotional response from detractors.

    On the contrary; if you’re describing exactly the same behaviour, why should the appropriate term not be used simply because the subject matter being denied the first time was so heinous? How about the term was chosen because it is accurate?

    Holocaust denial, AIDS denial, climate change denial, evolution denial; the pattern of behaviour is identical.

    * Maintain a position denying the overwhelming evidence to the contrary
    * Try and create the false impression that there is a substantial controversy at play when there is none
    * Use every opportunity this provides to promote your own worldview

    No comparison is being made to the content being discussed, but the tactics are the same.

    ‘Skepticism’ is a perfectly good word and is descriptive without being demeaning. It has no such roots.

    Skepticism has a very precise meaning in scientific discussions. If you would call someone who denies all evidence that HIV causes AIDS a ‘skeptic’, for example, you would be guilty of the very fault you’re accusing others of; you would be labelling people who reject scientific evidence as being scientific-minded, attaching an undue weight to their words.

  196. #196 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Of course it is used to imply those things, even when it doesn’t fit, as when there isn’t overwelming evidence, as in the case of belief in certain gods and belief in AGW.

  197. #197 Walton
    January 30, 2009

    Just about every time atheists run a government, they wind up commiting mass murder.

    Erm, that’s not exactly true. Former New Zealand PM Helen Clark, despite her many failings, has not (to the best of my knowledge) committed mass murder. Not to mention our own British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband; he’s an incompetent fool, but if he’s a mass murderer it’s the first I’ve heard of it.

    I think the problem here arises from a confusion as to the meaning of words. “Atheism” is not a philosophical or religious school of thought in itself. It’s simply the absence of belief in a deity – which, in itself, can’t motivate anyone to do anything, good or evil. Rather, the problem comes when one replaces god-belief with a secular religion like Marxism or Nazism, which – like theistic religious beliefs – is capable of motivating people to cause astonishing human suffering.

    You are, of course, right that Marxists, Nazis and others have horrifically persecuted various Christian groups – but remember that many Christians throughout history have also been persecuted by other Christians, from the Catholic persecution of “heretics” in the Middle Ages, to the persecution of Catholics, Mormons and other minority groups in 19th-century America.

    The only solution is – as Thomas Jefferson and other framers of the Constitution wisely saw – to separate religion from state, and have a legal framework which protects all religious and philosophical beliefs equally, and privileges no belief over any other. Everyone should support this; because the persecutors of today could be, and often are, the persecuted of tomorrow.

  198. #198 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    Re: Kagato (#196)

    They are not equivalents. The Holocaust happened because there’s ample evidence of it, photographic, recorded history by the Nazis themselves, eyewitness accounts from survivors, and the camps themselves still exist, as do the mass graves.

    AIDS is pretty much a no-brainer. Anyone who has ever gotten AIDS also had HIV first.

    Evolution denial is denial of a lot of multidisciplinary evidence from paleontology/geology to biology (genetic evidence). There can be skeptical positions on it, particularly on individual aspects (there has been heated debate over punctuated equilibrium, for example).

    Climate, that’s a whole different story. The only thing we have to predict climate is computer modeling and the IPCC’s own models have failed to predict climate not one year after they were released. The evidence we have of the past are all proxies, some of them are good and others are poor (and have proven to be). The best levels of confidence the National Academies of Science in their report could give to the proxies only go back 400 years. We’re talking about a field where direct evidence is difficult/impossble to get and measurements have only been taken for ~150 years. Skepticism about the conclusions abound and there are now hundreds of outed scientific detractors.

    We’re talking more about statistics and postulation in a field where we’ve got a lot of missing data and lack of understanding.

    AGW hysteria is unfounded. Few scientists are actually hysterics, even among supporters of the hypothesis.

  199. #199 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    Of course it is used to imply those things, even when it doesn’t fit, as when there isn’t overwelming evidence, as in the case of belief in certain gods and belief in AGW.

    I’m going to assume that was a typo, Africangenesis – unless there’s something you haven’t told us…

  200. #200 Kagato
    January 30, 2009

    Africangenesis, that was a really clumsy sentence, but I think I got the drift.

    If 97% of climatologists (the people who have spent their entire careers studying that subject) can look at the evidence and come to the same conclusion that global warming is occurring, and humans have contributed greatly to it, then yes I propose there is overwhelming evidence.

    One could lay a legitimate claim to being a skeptic of climate change by bringing actual new evidence to the table that hasn’t already been factored into the modelling. (That last bit’s important.) If you’re playing armchair scientist and throwing out the same debunked claims over and over, that’s just denialism.

    But it would be better to not drag AGW into this thread any further. I’m already going through that bloody argument on another board, and the topic is atheist bus ads anyway.

  201. #201 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    I don’t evangelize atheism, if asked if I’m an atheist, I usually inquire regarding which definition of god or gods they have in mind. If they envision a god without mass, or who is ominiscient or omnipotent then I am an atheist. If they envision a lesser god, who might have survived a remote initiation of the big bang, and at this moment might be searching for us or some novel companions at sublight speeds, I am skeptical but agnostic. If they have the sun in mind, I am certainly a believer, but wouldn’t see the point in worshipping beyond getting a good dose of vitamin D. Frankly, even if there was a god, I couldn’t see one that wanted to be worshipped as worthy of worship. But, atheism is not what my life is about. Some people seem to pursue it religiously.

  202. #202 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    Re: Kagato (#201)

    I don’t know where you got 97% from but I’ll guess it came from here. If it is, you’re lying by omission (whether you realize it or not).

    It says:

    The strongest consensus on the causes of global warming came from climatologists who are active in climate research, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role.

    Few scientists in the field doubt that humans play a role, but there are quite a few (even within climatology) that doubt that we play a significant role and fewer still believe we play a very significant role (the hysterical position of Gore and others). Hell, I don’t doubt that humans play a role. That said, CO2 is a trace gas measured in parts per million and I disagree that the figures arrived at by the models are accurate, especially considering their wide variability and the failure of the models to produce reliable results with known data. I do not believe we should be taking an alarmist political position, nor do I believe that such shaky conclusions are worth bankrupting the world economy over.

    Debunking the models themselves is good enough, they need not be replaced to be proven to be false. Hypotheses must be falsifiable, no matter how loathe you are to admit it. If the models continue to fail to predict climate then we need new models that can before we can leap to conclusions that the world is coming to an end.

    Formulating an alternate hypothesis and finding supporting evidence for it is not necessary to reject a hypothesis on its own lack of merit.

    I, too, tire of this argument.

  203. #203 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Rather, the problem comes when one replaces god-belief with a secular religion like Marxism or Nazism, which – like theistic religious beliefs – is capable of motivating people to cause astonishing human suffering.

    You are, of course, right that Marxists, Nazis and others have horrifically persecuted various Christian groups

    Nazis were Christians. Lutherans, mostly. When you say “remember that many Christians throughout history have also been persecuted by other Christians” those other Christians include the Nazis.

    And hundreds of millions of Marxists never hurt anyone. Have you a list of war crimes by your local SWP? Neither is Marxism a necessarily secular endeavor. See liberation theology, aka Marxist Catholicism.

    You’re a very superficial thinker, Walton, so I advise you not to embarrass yourself by publicly arguing these details.

  204. #204 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Kagato,

    You must be ignorant of the development cycle of the models if you don’t realize that there is a lot that “hasn’t already been factored into the modelling.” As part of the AR4 modeling effort, there were dozens of diagnostic studies. NONE, of the results of those were factored into the modeling. Modeling papers (perhaps they should just be called “announcements” since then rarely reference the diagnostic papers and how they addressed the issues raised in them. Of course, there have been diagnostic papers published since the AR4 which also haven’t been factored into the models. But I can tell your tired and frustrated already, and noone must even have mentioned to you all the things that haven’t been factored into the models.

  205. #205 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Ward S. Denker@203,

    I saw that “poll” published in EOS also. Kagato should know that I am part of that 97% “consensus”. It was very disengenuous.

  206. #206 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    By the way, Kagato, In case you have not heard the news:

    John Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen (NASA) is now a skeptic and did not have very nice things to say about Hansen either. He was responsible for climate research at NASA from 1982-94.

    That’s it for me on this subject for now.

  207. #207 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Ward S. Denker is a gibbering lunatic.

    Go read his blog for a minute. He believes that the UN has concocted global warming as part of a huge conspiracy to destroy the world economy and reduce human civilization to pre-industrial technology.

    No shit.

    The United Nations. Made up exclusively of nation-states which depend on fossil fuels to maintain their economies. Governments which could not exist in anything resembling their current forms without the internal combustion engine. Allied together in a super secret international conspiracy to destroy the very technologies which permit their own existence.

    It’s time for Ward to explain who’s all really behind this. Who’s got the secret power and motive to uproot modern civilization? Is it the Club of Rome? The Elders of Zion? The Illuminati? The Reptilians?

  208. #208 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #208, There is distinctly anti-capitalist rhetoric within the environmental movement. The third world countries have a history of embracing the idea that they are disadvantaged and exploited, so it should be no surprise that they are seeing this fearmongering as an opportunity to solicit handouts. I don’t see an explicit conspiracy, just a lot of chanting and winking. I don’t know if you have spent much time with democrat party “community activists”, but in my experience the percent that smoke is much higher than in the general population, yet you will seldom hear more vitriol against the tobacco companies. Don’t expect these movements to make sense. They don’t.

  209. #209 Walton
    January 30, 2009

    asshole: You’re a very superficial thinker, Walton, so I advise you not to embarrass yourself by publicly arguing these details.

    You can go and stick your condescending attitude where the sun doesn’t shine. I’ve had enough of being polite in the face of undeserved abuse. Your moniker is, indeed, well-deserved.

    And hundreds of millions of Marxists never hurt anyone. Have you a list of war crimes by your local SWP?

    They may not have killed anyone personally, but communist and hardline socialist parties in the West over the last fifty years have consistently been apologists for brutal dictatorships around the world – from the Soviet Union to Hugo Chavez. Nor do I subscribe to the fallacious view that Trotskyite Marxists, who disclaim Stalinism, are somehow any “better”. Trotsky was a mass murderer too; the fact that he lost the power struggle doesn’t make him a hero.

    Neither is Marxism a necessarily secular endeavor. See liberation theology, aka Marxist Catholicism.

    Bullshit. Marxism = allegiance to the ideas expressed by Marx, who was harshly critical of religion. I am perfectly familiar with the “liberation theology” movement; while they co-opted the Marxist criticisms of capitalism and ideas of class war, they were not followers of Marx.

    Nazis were Christians.

    As you damn well know (if you don’t, you’re an idiot), this is a hotly disputed point. Some Nazis professed Christianity. Others (including much of the SS) were adherents of a form of esoteric Germanic neo-paganism, and many were very hostile to Christianity. The reality is that, since the churches were too ingrained and institutionally powerful for the Nazis to destroy, the Nazis co-opted them for their own purposes (as with the state-run “German Christians” Protestant movement) or struck bargains with them (as with his Concordat with the Vatican).

    I am not claiming that the Nazis were in any sense rationalists; Hitler and Himmler were into all sorts of esoteric occult woo, and were influenced by occult writers such as Madame Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley. And, of course, they quote-mined Martin Luther and used his anti-semitic rants to great effect. But it’s completely ahistorical to see Nazism as a Christian movement. (Christian fascism, insofar as such a thing exists, is much better illustrated by the movements of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal.)

    So don’t you fucking dare call me a “superficial thinker”.

  210. #210 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Whoa!

    Looky there. Walton gettin’ fired up.

  211. #211 mayhempix
    January 30, 2009

    Ward S. Stinker
    “Denialism’ is an word with very ugly connotations, and it’s being used by the left for that reason.”

    We deny that.

  212. #212 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    Re: asshole (#208)

    You could link to it, you know? When I am talking about “dreams of a united world” I don’t mean NWO nonsense (an idiotic conspiracy theory I reject), I’m really just talking about the green rhetoric in use by environmentalists. There’s evidence of that abound and you need only a Google search to find them. I’ll leave that homework to you. I do see how you could have made that leap though, since I wasn’t that clear.

    I believe my conclusion is fair, but the entirety of the piece is opinion ? it is my blog, after all. It was partly meant to be funny (ripping on politicians, calling them ‘frightened’, etc.) though I admit, my own sense of humor is eccentric.

    I will have to cast my ballot for the lizard people, though.

  213. #213 Cube
    January 30, 2009

    Well, it looks like the poll is over. But we killed it 78%-yes, 8%-maybe, 14%-no. Good job!

  214. #214 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    They may not have killed anyone personally, but communist and hardline socialist parties in the West over the last fifty years have consistently been apologists for brutal dictatorships around the world – from the Soviet Union to Hugo Chavez.

    By your own reasoning, then, you have Nicaraguan and Iraqi blood on your hands for your defenses of Reagan and Bush.

    And do tell us how Chavez is a “brutal dictator.” He’s a dumbass who’s got no understanding of what he can gain from an independent media, and this is a troubling sign that could forebode future abuses of power, but he’s no war criminal.

    Nor do I subscribe to the fallacious view that Trotskyite Marxists, who disclaim Stalinism, are somehow any “better”. Trotsky was a mass murderer too; the fact that he lost the power struggle doesn’t make him a hero.

    Indeed. And that doesn’t make your local SWP a gang of murderers. How many Native Americans have died under the wars and policies of US governments? A Republican or Democrat today is just as guilty of those crimes as a modern Trot is of Bolshevik massacres. Or just as innocent. One or the other, either answer is acceptable, Walton, but you have to be consistent.

    Bullshit. Marxism = allegiance to the ideas expressed by Marx, who was harshly critical of religion.

    This is a uselessly restrictive definition. So if Hugo Chavez accepts a Marxist view of history, but believes in the Yahweh god and proclaims that Jesus was the original socialist, then he is not a Marxist?

    Any Jesus Radical who understands herself to be a Christian first and a Marxist second is just wrong, and doesn’t get to decide for herself what Christianity and Marxism mean to her?

    This is precisely what I meant when I said you are a superficial thinker. Everything is so very black and white.

    As you damn well know (if you don’t, you’re an idiot), this is a hotly disputed point. Some Nazis professed Christianity. Others (including much of the SS) were adherents of a form of esoteric Germanic neo-paganism, and many were very hostile to Christianity.

    Then you support the Nuremberg defense: the fault for the Holocaust is all upon the higher-ups, the rest were blamelessly following orders.

    Walton, my boy, the Holocaust was physically carried out by German soldiers. The whole damned nation had not turned pagan; that was a conceit of the elites. The rank and file were Christians, particularly Lutherans. “The Nazis” doesn’t mean Himmler and his homies. It may make you uncomfortable to say out loud, but it is not at controversial to say that the Holocaust was a Christian missionary work.

  215. #215 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #215, There isn’t any president in recent memory that doesn’t have blood on their hands, although Carter and Ford (I haven’t analyzed him closely) may have less than most. They should be seen in historical perspective.

  216. #216 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Bullshit. Marxism = allegiance to the ideas expressed by Marx,

    This means that Lenin and Trotsky were not Marxists, because they disagreed with Karl on a not-at-all-minor detail: whether communism can arise in a pre-industrial society like 1917 Russia through vanguardism. This is the disagreement that separates Trots and Leninists from other Marxists, particularly anarchists.

    Does this put Walton on the side of the Anarchist FAQ? Rather so, but in a fundamentalist sense, since even the anarchists just say that Lenin and Trotsky were bad Marxists, rather than untrue Scotsmen.

  217. #217 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    #215, There isn’t any president in recent memory that doesn’t have blood on their hands, although Carter and Ford (I haven’t analyzed him closely) may have less than most. They should be seen in historical perspective.

    Yeah, because historically, genocide is forgivable.

    Think about what you’re saying, moron.

  218. #218 mayhempix
    January 30, 2009

    Walton’s “thinking” again:

    “…parties in the West over the last fifty years have consistently been apologists for brutal dictatorships around the world – from the Soviet Union to Hugo Chavez. ”

    Chavez may be a demagogue and seduced by the cult of his own personality, but he certainly is not a “brutal dictator”. He was elected democratically and does not rule by force and deadly intimidation. Calling him something he is not only serves to reinforce the perception to Venezuelans that the US wants to remove by any means necessary.

    “So don’t you fucking dare call me a “superficial thinker”.”

    OK… I’ll call you a “naive thinker” who swallows wingnut talking points.

  219. #219 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #218, “Yeah, because historically, genocide is forgivable”. No, it just happened, modern humans are like that. We aren’t talking genocide with recent presidents, but collateral damage and net-lives-saved decisions, and restrictions on civil liberties. By these standards recent presidents don’t fare poorly compared to say Nixon, Johnson, FDR, Wilson and Lincoln.

  220. #220 Patricia, OM
    January 30, 2009

    Blatavsky & Crowley… that’s naughty Walton.

  221. #221 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Assata Shakur is not a Marxist.

    Shit, Marx is not a Marxist:

    Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation.

  222. #223 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    “Yeah, because historically, genocide is forgivable”. No, it just happened, modern humans are like that.

    No, it just happened, modern humans are like that.

    No, it just happened,

    it just happened,

    just happened.

  223. #224 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #224,

    I may have said that clumsily. There is no point in forgiving dead perpetrators, or in visiting their sins upon later generations. The modern human legacy is one of genocide. Hopefully we can get beyond that. But it has no relevance to the discussion of recent presidents.

  224. #225 Richard Simons
    January 30, 2009

    I don’t really want to sidetrack the bus advert discussion, but I feel I have to say this. Ward S. Denker said

    The only thing we have to predict climate is computer modeling

    No, we have basic physics. CO2 is transparent to light coming from the sun but less transparent to energy leaving Earth. Therefore atmospheric CO2 warms the Earth and an increase in CO2 will increase the warming effect, in the absence of other effects. This has been a non-controversial part of physics for 100 years. Atmospheric CO2 has been known to be increasing for over 40 years, with evidence from multiple sources that it is anthropogenic in origin. In the absence of a major negative feed-back mechanism (and none is known) global warming is inevitable. Indeed, as an agricultural botany student 40 years ago I remember being told to expect global warming by the end of the century.

    I have pointed this out on various blogs and asked where denialists take issue with it. The only person who has ever replied in the end admitted he was indulging in wishful thinking. And yes, they are denialists because they refuse to address the main points but instead concentrate on peripheral issues like whether a met station record was a degree out, this year’s weather in the US or whether a certain hurricane was really a result of global warming or not.

    Regarding the bus adverts, it’s quite educational how it gets people upset, but I can agree with the person who said the CBC seemed fair on the issue. I heard some commentary on the London bus ads and got the impression that at least one of the anchor people was completely in favour.

  225. #226 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Richard Simons,

    I can’t believe noone has been able to respond to you. There is no need to deny the direct effects of CO2. They can only explain less than 30% of the recent warming. To explain more you need significant NET positive feedbacks. And the warming in not ievitable if the CO2 net effects are smaller than the natural variation. You must have been hanging out in the wrong places.

    We need much better models or better knowledge of solar minima in order to determine the relative attribution of the recent warming to the solar and AGW hypotheses.

  226. #227 tariqata
    January 30, 2009

    I live in Toronto. For the past several years there have been “Bus Stop Bible Study” bus and subway ads on the TTC with passages from the New Testament about the divinity of Jesus. It’s nice to see some balance headed our way.

    Yeah, I’m glad to see something responding to these. The group that’s putting them up has as much right to do so as anyone else, obviously, but it’s good to see that the other side will get some representation. On the other hand, apparently the United Church is going to be putting up some ads that say “There probably is a god. Now relax and enjoy your life.” So the Atheist Bus Campaign may need to come up with some new slogans.

    I’m going to shill a bit here – the ads that bug me the most are actually the recent “www.coolcosmos.net” ads. Not because I object to ads that make note of cool astronomy stuff, but because U of T sold off a real, working observatory (plus the parkland around it) that was doing tons of community education work to a developer, and seem to have replaced it with an ad campaign on the TTC.

  227. #228 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    There is no point in … visiting their sins upon later generations.

    So if you inherit a fortune that was gained by theft, there’s no point in accounting for what was denied to the rightful inheritors.

    But it has no relevance to the discussion of recent presidents.

    Only because we’ve developed more efficient methods than genocide.

  228. #229 tariqata
    January 30, 2009

    I live in Toronto. For the past several years there have been “Bus Stop Bible Study” bus and subway ads on the TTC with passages from the New Testament about the divinity of Jesus. It’s nice to see some balance headed our way.

    Yeah, I’m glad to see something responding to these. The group that’s putting them up has as much right to do so as anyone else, obviously, but it’s good to see that the other side will get some representation. On the other hand, apparently the United Church is going to be putting up some ads that say “There probably is a god. Now relax and enjoy your life.” So the Atheist Bus Campaign may need to come up with some new slogans.

    I’m going to shill a bit here – the ads that bug me the most are actually the recent “www.coolcosmos.net” ads. Not because I object to ads that make note of cool astronomy stuff, but because U of T sold off a real, working observatory (plus the parkland around it) that was doing tons of community education work to a developer, and seem to have replaced it with an ad campaign on the TTC.

  229. #230 ideasmaan
    January 30, 2009

    Freedom of speech is sacred.

  230. #231 tariqata
    January 30, 2009

    Argh, sorry for the double post!

  231. #232 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #229, “So if you inherit a fortune that was gained by theft, there’s no point in accounting for what was denied to the rightful inheritors.”

    Exactly, there are no rightful inheritors, they are dead. Modern humans did not come out of east Africa into the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia all the way to Indonesia to find unoccupied land. Home erectus and neanderthalis were there, and those people are gone now.

    So take your racist crap and go away.

  232. #233 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    So take your racist crap and go away.

    Hurr. It’s racist to note that Native Americans was robbed.

  233. #234 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    It’s racist to note that many black Americans are the descendants of slaves who were never paid for their labor. Also, modern black Americans do not exist: “they are dead.”

  234. #235 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Yes it is racist. You can’t equate modern blacks to those that suffered under slavery, or blame modern non-black esidents, many are descended from similarly oppressed anscesters who didn’t arrive here until well after the slavery, in my case the 20th century. Are you saying the blacks should be sent back to Africa, the Europeans to Europe, the Mexicans back south of the border and the “native” americans should inherit the land because they successfully killed all the rightful inheritors?

  235. #236 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    You can’t equate modern blacks to those that suffered under slavery,

    I don’t need to. It’s trivial that the descendants of slaves would be less economically disadvantaged today if their ancestors had not been enslaved, or if upon emancipation had been properly compensated for their work. Modern descendants of slaves are the rightful inheritors of the fruits of their ancestors’ labor.

    or blame modern non-black esidents, many are descended from similarly oppressed anscesters who didn’t arrive here until well after the slavery, in my case the 20th century.

    Certainly slaveholding and non-slaveholding families have different degrees of accountability. You’re the one who started hyperventilating like a Stormfronter at the mere mention of unpaid debts, as though I’d said all whites were equally guilty.

    Your family was still the beneficiary of Jim Crow laws, and you today are still the beneficiary of white privilege. It does no one any good to deny these facts.

  236. #237 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Are you saying the blacks should be sent back to Africa, the Europeans to Europe, the Mexicans back south of the border and the “native” americans should inherit the land because they successfully killed all the rightful inheritors?

    As you are a profoundly simplistic person, it is no surprise that these are your only imagined remedies. Your knee-jerk racism deserves no comment, except to note that these are your words and not mine.

  237. #238 Nellie
    January 30, 2009

    Hi All,

    I’m from Toronto, and my pal Luke sent this into PZ….
    I totally agree with PZ, it should be 100% YES!! On occasion the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) will post ads for other religious groups… therefore in the spirit of “freedom of speech” I would hope that people don’t get their panties in a bunch over these ads…Equal rights for everyone…am I right ?

    Cheers!

  238. #239 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #237,

    “It’s trivial that the descendants of slaves would be less economically disadvantaged today if their ancestors had not been enslaved,”

    Have you compared the descendants of slaves with those in Africa that weren’t enslaved? I think not.

    #238,

    What are your rememdies and what are they remedies for and who is to provide these remedies? Let’s see how defensible your sense of cross-generational “justice” is, and what your documentation and genetic testing requirements will be.

  239. #240 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Have you compared the descendants of slaves with those in Africa that weren’t enslaved? I think not.

    Racist touchdown and field goal! “Slavery was good for Africans!” Bravo, sir. I’d heard that such crazy racists as you existed in the wild, but I’ve never caught one before today.

  240. #241 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Have you compared the descendants of slaves with those in Africa that weren’t enslaved? I think not.

    Holy shit.

  241. #242 KnockGoats
    January 30, 2009

    There is no need to deny the direct effects of CO2. They can only explain less than 30% of the recent warming. To explain more you need significant NET positive feedbacks. – africangenesis

    As of course is undisputed. However, since warmer air holds more water vapour, the increase in anthropogenic GHGs (CO2, CH4, N20 and others) can easily account for all the warming, as I have pointed out repeatedly when you try to mislead people in this way.

    I think asshole has dealt adequately with your racism on this occasion. It is of course typical of “libertarians” to scream “racism” as a diversionary tactic – I think it must be in chapter 1 of “Libertarian rhetoric for dummies”.

  242. #243 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    #241,

    And you said it would be “trivial”, apparently you have decided it was, but didn’t like the result. What is your plan, is it going to be raced based with genetic testing for the beneficiaries? Will the genetic testing for the cross-generational “guilty”? Or are we going by “identity”, because I identify as an African-American and have the peer review evidence to prove it.

  243. #244 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    KnockGoats@243,

    You neglect to mention negative feedbacks as usual. You are right that the GHGs can easily account for all the warming. But you neglect to mention that they can account for several times the warming and that water vapor is also a positive feedback to solar warming. Negative feedbacks are the reason we have less than 1W/m^2 of energy imbalance as of 1998, and the total 20th century temperature increase is only about 0.6 degress C. It is dishonest of you to try to slip the same deceit past us, after this has already been explained to you.

  244. #245 KnockGoats
    January 30, 2009

    What are your rememdies and what are they remedies for and who is to provide these remedies? Let’s see how defensible your sense of cross-generational “justice” is, and what your documentation and genetic testing requirements will be. – africangenesis

    Coordinated action to reduce international economic inequality through fairer trade practices, technology transfer, reform of the UN, IMF, World Bank and WTO to give greater power to poor countries, and establishment of an international fund for education and health spending, funded by a carbon tax. In the longer term, work toward one-person-one-vote global direct democracy on decisions with global implications. Within countries, again, coordinated action to reduce socio-economic inequality through progressive taxation, expansion of welfare spending, public ownership of essential services – notably banks, and anti-discrimination legislation. These measures are morally justified on humanitarian grounds alone, but would also serve to redress the injustices due to historical events from which some alive now have benefited and others have suffered. No genetic testing or documentation required.

  245. #246 asshole
    January 30, 2009

    And you said it would be “trivial”

    And it is. Family trees are very complete in America. The courts are already set up to consider claims of stolen property and unpaid debts. What’s missing is the political and social will to admit that one group’s losses have been another’s gains. But KnockGoats’s suggestions are also workable.

    I identify as an African-American

    Doesn’t make you any less of a crazy racist. Just a self-loathing one.

  246. #247 Ben
    January 30, 2009

    AG, why do you identify yourself as Latino/Hispanic on your MySpace page?

    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=14288905

  247. #248 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Ben,

    That is because one of my anscestors was oppressed by the Spanish king and converted to Catholocism under the Spanish Inquistion. That anscestor was African too. This intergenerational stuff is messy, but I think #247 has a good plan for straightening it.

  248. #249 Ben
    January 30, 2009

    I have western European roots, but sometimes, just for fun, I like to identify myself as Asian.

  249. #250 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    KnockGoat@246,

    Why are you doing it on a “country” basis? How is that any fairer than “race”? There are a lot of dictators and corrupt officials that you are giving power to. You will probably create more inequality rather than less, unless you require those governments to reform.

  250. #251 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Ben@250,

    Now you’ve got it. Self-identification is the standard. I try to stick to identities and solidarities I actually feel and can back up. “Asian” is so non-specific I’m not sure what you mean. My anscesters from every lineage were black and probably spoke click languages.

  251. #252 Laser Potato
    January 30, 2009

    Africangenesis reveals himself to be more even of an irredeemable, racist, scientifically illiterate dickweed with every post he makes. Every time you think he’s hit rock bottom, he pulls out a shovel and starts digging some more.

    “Exactly, there are no rightful inheritors, they are dead. Modern humans did not come out of east Africa into the rest of Africa, Europe and Asia all the way to Indonesia to find unoccupied land. Home erectus and neanderthalis were there, and those people are gone now.”
    A standard argument from ignorance: “I don’t understand how it happened, so it can’t be true.” Plus, the fact that H. Erectus and Neandertal Man are extinct is a red herring. The very first cat breed that was ever domesticated (from which all domestic cats descend) is now extinct, so does that mean they didn’t come from Egypt?

  252. #253 Laser Potato
    January 30, 2009

    Aaagh, ignore that last sentence! :(

  253. #254 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    LP@253,

    You are miss-reading, let me rephrase it for you. Modern humans found the land occupied when they came out of east Africa. There were neanderthals in Europe and home erectus all the way to eastern Asia and Indonesia. In the rest of Africa, they found home erectus. The fact that H. erectus and neanderthalis are extinct after surviving a couple ices and interglacials is informative.

    The very first cat breed from which all domestic cats descend is not extinct, its descendents survive. To the best of our knowledge, those homo erectus and homo neanderthalis that were not in Africa, left no descendants. There is however, some speculation that neanderthal made a contribution or two to the human genome. The jury is out on that.

  254. #255 streetwise
    January 30, 2009

    Dear fellow Atheists,

    The time of our resurrection will come soon; in my home country of the Netherlands, some nitwits of religion have actually taken the trouble of starting an “anti-evolution theory” print campaign. Well, let me rephrase this: they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another “belief”. A seizable amount of influential Christians have come up with the idea that pre-, middle- and high school children are entitled to or should be eligible for both ‘theories’: Creation and Evolution.
    And the beauty of it all, they will deliver the pamphlets to all households in the Netherlands, unless you’ve been able to acquire a sticker on your front door that unequivocally states you don’t want to receive the pro-Creation pamphlet.
    Like they will care!
    I personally find it’s just frustrating, because apart from the fact that the ‘stickers’ have long been sold out, the whole idea is just too much: another sign on the wall that Christians are being discriminated in favour of non-believers. What’s going on?
    But my fellow Atheists, our time will come when pro-creation actions like described above, will give us momentum in finding ways of letting the theists know we’re still here, and we’re the fuck not dodging!
    Come on people ? it’s our world as well!
    I say: Let’s start a worldwide initiative to distribute a counter campaign, and let the Spain atheist-buses guide us to resurrecting our scientifically correct attitude towards the origins of life.

  255. #256 streetwise
    January 30, 2009

    Dear fellow Atheists,

    The time of our resurrection will come soon; in my home country of the Netherlands, some nitwits of religion have actually taken the trouble of starting an “anti-evolution theory” print campaign. Well, let me rephrase this: they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another “belief”. A seizable amount of influential Christians have come up with the idea that pre-, middle- and high school children are entitled to or should be eligible for both ‘theories’: Creation and Evolution.
    And the beauty of it all, they will deliver the pamphlets to all households in the Netherlands, unless you’ve been able to acquire a sticker on your front door that unequivocally states you don’t want to receive the pro-Creation pamphlet.
    Like they will care!
    I personally find it’s just frustrating, because apart from the fact that the ‘stickers’ have long been sold out, the whole idea is just too much: another sign on the wall that Christians are being discriminated in favour of non-believers. What’s going on?
    But my fellow Atheists, our time will come when pro-creation actions like described above, will give us momentum in finding ways of letting the theists know we’re still here, and we’re the fuck not dodging!
    Come on people ? it’s our world as well!
    I say: Let’s start a worldwide initiative to distribute a counter campaign, and let the Spain atheist-buses guide us to resurrecting our scientifically correct attitude towards the origins of life.

  256. #257 streetwise
    January 30, 2009

    Dear fellow Atheists,

    The time of our resurrection will come soon; in my home country of the Netherlands, some nitwits of religion have actually taken the trouble of starting an “anti-evolution theory” print campaign. Well, let me rephrase this: they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another “belief”. A seizable amount of influential Christians have come up with the idea that pre-, middle- and high school children are entitled to or should be eligible for both ‘theories’: Creation and Evolution.
    And the beauty of it all, they will deliver the pamphlets to all households in the Netherlands, unless you’ve been able to acquire a sticker on your front door that unequivocally states you don’t want to receive the pro-Creation pamphlet.
    Like they will care!
    I personally find it’s just frustrating, because apart from the fact that the ‘stickers’ have long been sold out, the whole idea is just too much: another sign on the wall that Christians are being discriminated in favour of non-believers. What’s going on?
    But my fellow Atheists, our time will come when pro-creation actions like described above, will give us momentum in finding ways of letting the theists know we’re still here, and we’re the fuck not dodging!
    I say: Let’s start a worldwide initiative to distribute a counter campaign, and let the Spain atheist-buses guide us to resurrecting our scientifically correct attitude towards the origins of life.

    Or maybe it’s just me who’s frustrated….

  257. #258 Tony Byland
    January 30, 2009

    no,because its going against all of freedom of religion.making people doubt there religion.,and its going to make muslims,Christians,and everyone who believes in God or “gods” angry.

  258. #259 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Tony Byland #259 wrote:

    no,because its going against all of freedom of religion.making people doubt there religion

    Er … just exactly how do you define “freedom of religion?” Being free from coming across any criticism or disagreement?

  259. #260 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    This thread got nasty rather quickly. Back and forth calls of racist…wow.

    I don’t think either of you is provably racist, not by what was said anyway. Asshole (why you named yourself that, I’ll never understand) is trying to follow a chain of logic on the subject of property ownership/inheritance. Trying to decide who owns what based on the fact that their ancestors laid clam to an area and bred on it just gets really messy really quickly.

    There aren’t any rules to inheritance because there aren’t any in nature. We are all still animals ? smarter ones who sit at computers and snarl through our teeth at one another with keyboards instead ? but animals nonetheless. We trade for resources, we fight over them, and we kill for them. We do all of these in increasingly complex rituals that we delude ourselves into believing is ‘civilized.’ We’re apes with instant communication and the same ancient instinctual need to compete, posture, and threaten. Doesn’t that whole back-and-forth just look stupid on the face of it under that light?

    And what Africangenesis said isn’t racist either. Recognizing that current generations have a better standard of living because their offspring wound up on a continent with significant resources and their ancestors’ offspring grew up on a continent with fewer hardly strikes me as ‘racist.’

    Canis lupus familiaris evolved alongside man, probably ensnared from the wild and forced into obedience originally. By human standards, modern dogs have an improved standard of living to their wild cousins. They’re fed, bathed, have access to veterinary care, and live in air-conditioned environments just like we do. There have been dogs kept in deplorable conditions, an insult to our own humanity, and treated as property. By and large most dogs kept as pets are treated as members of the family. What probably started out as a bad situation for Canis lupus has become an overwhelmingly good thing for their ancestors.

    Some of our ancestors treated other members of homo sapiens in much the same way, but that doesn’t mean that recent generations don’t have a generally better standard of living on this continent than they’d have had if their ancestors had never been enslaved. We’re all homo sapiens and we’ve moved on. Most of us, as a species, are free. We identify as clans over trivial differences in our genome and we have the capacity to record and remember our own history. Our ancestors in pre-history were probably equally brutal toward one another (maybe more so) but we don’t have much of an emotional attachment to those ancestors because their history is lost. Does that mean we’re all racists by recognizing that we’ve improved our lot in life from the days of hunting and gathering, even though our pre-historic ancestors surely brutalized one another as modern homo sapiens continue to today? Who knows how many instances of slavery existed before we advanced enough to record it. I’d imagine every living human probably has an ancestor that experienced enslavement to other humans.

    Food for thought…

  260. #261 Africangenesis
    January 30, 2009

    Ward S. Denker,

    You are too hard on us modern modern humans, the hunter gatherer humans were apparently far more violent than us, even with our world wars. You might be interested in this Pinker talk:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

    regards

  261. #262 Ben
    January 30, 2009

    AG, the Asian thing was a joke.

  262. #263 Ward S. Denker
    January 30, 2009

    Re: Africangenesis (#262)

    Thank you for sharing that video, it was interesting. Even without having seen it nor having seen any evidence presented on the subject, I imagined our history was probably like that.

    When I don’t have anything but my own speculation or opinions to go on, I tend to lace what I say with qualifiers. They’re lost on many, it seems, though they’re the only way I know of to communicate opinions, facts, and my level of confidence in them. I tend to be very careful about what I say, but I fear most aren’t very careful about how they read it. I, myself, am guilty of that and it leads to a lot of misunderstandings and increased hostility.

    Straying off the beaten path from that topic, I was recently thinking on my own propensity toward lateral thinking. Sometimes I can’t figure out a way to formulate a way to share what’s in my head, so I overexplain things to compensate. My wife were watching an excerpt of a talk given by Neil deGrasse Tyson and my wife was irritated by his tendency to overexplain his points, as she’s often irritated when I do. I appreciate the subtle nuances of his way of putting things and I suspect he probably has a high capacity for lateral thinking but, perhaps, suffers the same difficulty as I in getting it out to others.

    I think it might certainly account for a lot of misapprehension by others of what I’m saying. I am aware that I do have a tendency to think laterally, and I’m also aware that most tend to have difficulty thinking that way. I’m not trying to advance the idea that lateral thinking is better, just that it’s different. I’ve been subject to blind spots of my own while attempting to check the blind spots of others. I’m nearly certain that someone reading this views it as self-centered elitism, and equally certain that any disclaimer to the contrary will be seen as ‘denial.’ I’m always trying to think two steps ahead to predict the reactions others will have to what I say, perhaps because I lack a capacity to ‘get it’ that others instinctively possess.

    Maybe there’s something to just getting it out on the table so that we all don’t have to guess at one another’s motives, faults, strengths and weaknesses. I’d certainly like te be understood and am always seeking to improve my own understanding of others. Maybe it will do something to help halt these useless cycles of hostility.

  263. #264 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    no,because its going against all of freedom of religion.making people doubt there religion.,and its going to make muslims,Christians,and everyone who believes in God or “gods” angry.

    Wait…

    What?

  264. #265 David Harrison
    January 30, 2009

    I found this interesting quote somewhere in the thread above “Atheists do not question if there is a god, they know there is almost certainly no god.” Isn’t that what the Atheist bus ads say? And, what does “almost certainly” mean anyway? A humorous oxymoron. ;>)

  265. #266 darter22
    January 30, 2009

    I’m impressed that 57% of Canadians are not complete idiots. In America that figure is maybe half that.

  266. #267 «bønez_brigade»
    January 30, 2009

    Mewonders how this previous poll would fare if restarted and presented after the ads are posted:
    “Do you feel any less safe on the TTC after Thursday?s shooting?”

    …since Gawd surely won’t be riding along with them then, that is.

  267. #268 asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Asshole (why you named yourself that, I’ll never understand) is trying to follow a chain of logic on the subject of property ownership/inheritance. Trying to decide who owns what based on the fact that their ancestors laid clam to an area and bred on it just gets really messy really quickly.

    There aren’t any rules to inheritance because there aren’t any in nature.

    Typical libertarian duplicity. When you stand to benefit, then society must at minimum maintain a system of courts that can settle property disputes, and a nightwatchman state that protects your property from theft. When you stand to lose, then there are no laws, we all exist in a primal state of nature, and there’s no such thing as justice as long as you’ve got yours.

    The examples I gave, of slavery in the United States and the theft of Native American lands, were carried out by civilizations that recognized laws, courts and property. Despite your and AG’s repeated misdirections, I’m not talking about neolithic tribalism that cannot be sorted today. I ask for justice that can be done, by civilizations that recognize the necessity of justice, under standards that were good enough for the powerful to adopt among themselves.

    And what Africangenesis said isn’t racist either. Recognizing that current generations have a better standard of living because their offspring wound up on a continent with significant resources and their ancestors’ offspring grew up on a continent with fewer hardly strikes me as ‘racist.’

    Thank god someone born into white privilege could come along and tell us that justifying slavery isn’t racist. We desperately needed your input to solve this dilemma.

    You and AG have tried to excuse slavery as a net good for enslaved people, claiming that reparations would be undeserved. If that hardly strikes you as racist, then you must be a real hit at parties; your privilege must smother the whole room. Then you go on to compare Africans to dogs, insist that they should be happy to be treated as well as dogs, and finish by asserting that we’re probably all the descendants of slaves at one time or another in the last million years so there’s no reason to remedy 2009 injustices that can be definitively traced to recent policies.

    If you’re not a white supremacist, you ought to be concerned, because you sound exactly like one.

  268. #269 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: asshole (#269)

    I believe I was exceedingly clear before (#264). It seems exceedingly obvious to me that you’re suffering from some sort of delusion. You repeatedly misapprehend the points of others. I tried to be a peacemaker between the two of you, but you responded with viciousness and he responded favorably. Which of you are we to take is in the wrong on this?

    I made no justification for slavery, and anyone who read what I wrote can see that. I do think it’s wrong to hold the belief that the great, great grandchildren of people that did commit such atrocities should be held accountable for the actions of ancestors long dead. If you believe that there are freedoms withheld from blacks today, illustrate them and I’ll probably agree with you (assuming you’re not pulling said issues out of your ass) that they should be addressed.

    Nobody excused (a subtle distintion from justification) slavery either, it was a deplorable action, but the perpetrators are dead. According to Wikipedia, the Civil War resulted in 620,000 dead soldiers and an indeterminate number of dead civilians. The price of freedom was paid in the economic destruction of the south in the blood of free men and tyrants. The civil rights movement wiped away the remaining inequalities, didn’t it?

    I didn’t compare Africans to dogs. I compared canis lupus familiaris to homo sapiens sapiens, our species a distinction that seems to have been lost on you. I can’t tell if you were being intentionally disingenuous, but it surely seems so. We’re all the descendants of an extremely violent peoples. Every one of us is probably the descendant of someone who was enslaved by another, the children of women captured in tribal warfare and raped.

    Contrary to some notion you appear to have, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I’ve never been to college. I’ve got the same basic public education that we’ve all got access to. Where’s the inequality? You assume that, probably due to my level of self-education and literary verve. You assume that I’m white, just as you assumed Africangenesis was. And you had the audacity to call him a self-loathing racist because he didn’t fit into the box you wanted to put him. The fact that you’re trying to put anyone into a racial box so that you can ignore their opinion makes me come awfully close to rescinding my assertion that you are probably not a racist. It’s your attitude which is deplorable here, not ours.

    We’re all the same species and we’re all in this together. Dwelling on the actions of our ancestors, long dead, gets us nowhere unless we choose to not learn from their mistakes.

  269. #270 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: asshole (#269)

    And, because I wasn’t clear on this, the only thing you know about me is what I’ve written, and the only thing you can deduce from that with any fair degree of certainty is that I’m educated. By presuming that I’ve come from a background of “white privilege” you’re basically saying that you don’t believe that an educated person such as myself could possibly be black, hispanic, native American, etc. Which of us harbors prejudice?

  270. #271 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    #269,

    I called you a racist, because I could see a mile away where you were coming from. You can’t make your points without mischaracterizing and intentionally misunderstanding the points you are addressing. You assume that all Europeans were privileged beneficiaries of slavery and empire. Get some historical perspective. Most Europeans were oppressed also. Even at the time of the first WWI the nutritional status of the lower classes was much lower than the upper classes. The upper classes used them as cannon fodder. When they saw the American farm boys come over, they thought that the Americans must be race of “officers”, they were so much taller. You shouldn’t judge people by the color of their skin, and you should visit the sins of a minority in the past on all of those alive today. There are enough injustices among the living to be addressed. There are many still alive today that suffered under the conscription of FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon that should be given reparations, because we consider intergenerational issues where neither the victims nor the perpetrators are alive today, and where the impacts of the past are far outweighed by the consequences of intervening decisions by the living.

  271. #272 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Correction: “because we consider intergenerational issues” should read “BEFORE we consider intergenerational issues”

  272. #273 Walton
    January 31, 2009

    It is of course typical of “libertarians” to scream “racism” as a diversionary tactic – I think it must be in chapter 1 of “Libertarian rhetoric for dummies”.

    You can fuck off. I have never labelled anyone here as “racist”. Indeed I try to avoid the term.

    However, I will say, since you bring it up, that it is inherently collectivist, if not racist, to assert that modern-day private property is somehow illegitimate, and that we should feel guilty about owning and enjoying our property, because our far-distant predecessors in title may have forcibly dispossessed Native Americans/Aborigines/Saxons/Celts/some other group.

    Human beings are individuals. We are not defined by the colour of our skins, nor our national origins, nor our allegiance to any kind of group, “community” or culture. Race is just an arbitrary social distinction. It is ludicrous, and inherently racist, to assert that modern-day people of European descent somehow bear some kind of guilt, or owe some sort of debt, to people of non-European descent because of what happened between their ancestors. This is why I am opposed – to take an example – to Kevin Rudd (Australian PM)’s decision to “apologise” to indigenous Australians for the way they were treated by white settlers. It rests on an inherently racist assumption, viz. the idea that one person is somehow morally responsible for the crimes of another person of the same race or national origin.

    Likewise, I’m opposed to the idea of apologising, or paying reparations, for slavery and the slave trade. I have never enslaved anyone, nor advocated the enslavement of anyone. Why, then, do I allegedly owe some sort of debt to a person who happens to be descended from slaves (but has not himself ever been a slave)?

    In the end, the solution to racism is – contrary to popular belief – not government action to “redress the balance” by treating people from traditionally disadvantaged ethnic backgrounds more favourably. Indeed, such a policy is itself racist, since it discriminates on the ground of race; it also, in practical terms, breeds more disaffection and resentment.

    Rather, the solution to racial inequity is free-market capitalism. A free market separates economic efficiency from irrelevant factors; as Milton Friedman pointed out, a man who buys a loaf of bread doesn’t know the racial origin of the man who grew the wheat. Likewise, racial discrimination is a disadvantageous trait in a free market. If a businessman refuses to sell to black customers, or employ black workers, his pool of potential customers and employees is reduced – reducing his profits and increasing his labour costs, and making him less competitive in the marketplace.

  273. #274 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    the solution to racial inequity is free-market capitalism

    This bon mot is an excellent reminder of why I keep ol’ Walton in the killfile and regret every time I peek. Do you guys have Friedman cryogenically preserved in the Fantasyland castle?

  274. #275 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Sven#275,

    Is that dismissive concept your idea of substance. I’ve noticed the progressive/anarchist sect is particularly prone to the head-in-the-sand “ostrich” response. Do you have anything to offer besides trying to appear cool in front of your peers?

  275. #276 Walton
    January 31, 2009

    KnockGoats,

    I apologise for telling you to fuck off in my post above (#274). It was uncalled for. I’ve been slightly annoyed by some people’s comments lately, but that’s no excuse for me attacking you.

  276. #277 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    Is that dismissive concept your idea of substance.

    No. It’s my idea of trying to appear cool by being dismissive.
    Do you think that a statement like “the solution to racial inequality is free-market capitalism” deserves a substantive response? If so, I will leave it to people who enjoy thinking about such stuff. My role around here is to diligently attempt to always appear virtually cool in virtual front of my virtual peers by means of dismissive wisecracks and attempts at witty sarcasm.
    What’s your?

  277. #278 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Go change your pants Walton.

  278. #279 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Sven (#278)

    I cannot speak on behalf of Walton or Africangenesis, but I will lend my view on this.

    You’re trying to look at it from the perspective of a straight-forward answer. The answer is actually a product of lateral logic, a method of deduction of answers which most are not familiar with.

    Any law may have a downside. I’m not talking about loopholes or poorly-worded laws, though. Those are certainly downsides, but they’re also arrived at with simple deduction. A lateral downside would be a cost of changing the behavior of people, something outside the actual scope of the law or its application.

    Drug and alcohol prohibition have few direct negative consequences. Lost revenue for the industry is, to many, an acceptable tradeoff for not having to deal with the societal problems that arise from use of these substances.

    Lateral logic helps us to find additional consequences of the law. Prohibition creates a black market, one which is defended with extreme violence. It ends up ensnaring innocents ? otherwise peaceful, law-abiding citizens who occasionally imbibe substances harmful only to themselves, and places them in prison, where they won’t get treatment for their addiction. Innocents are killed ? incidentals to gang shootings. Prohibition drives up the price of drugs/alcohol and makes criminals of the consumers themselves, who may burglarize homes (and do violence to homeowners who resist) to support their artificially expensive habit. Black markets have no system of accountability, so the products they produce may be more harmful to the imbiber (containing impurities such as rat poison or ground up glass) than a product produced legitimately ? which leads to further strain on our medical system.

    I’ve never touched a drug in my life and have only consumed alcohol on rare occasions. I don’t think anyone else should use drugs either, but I do believe that the incidental costs of drug prohibition are more damaging to our society (murders and other violent crimes) than the harm a few individuals inflict on themselves.

  279. #280 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Sven#278,

    “Do you think that a statement like “the solution to racial inequality is free-market capitalism” deserves a substantive response?”

    As a mere assertion, “No”, but it in context “yes”, and there was some context. Walton noted that the market mechanism is color blind. Combine that with his argument against trying to remedy wrongs from generations ago, and your flip response as if the statement was merely asserted is not good faith.

  280. #281 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Ward S. Denker,

    “I cannot speak on behalf of Walton or Africangenesis”

    But we will be able to speak on behalf of Sven, if he killfiles us. I’m sure I can imagine what he would say, and tear it all to pieces.

  281. #282 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    I can find nothing with which to disagree in Mr. Denker’s #280. I must confess, though (at the risk of appearing less than cool), that I am missing its relevance to Walton’s dogmatic little assertion.

  282. #283 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Sven (#283)

    Using lateral logic and following the chain to its natural conclusions, one can arrive at the answer Friedman had.

    A ‘market’ is an abstract medium for an exchange of goods, a model for describing the behavior of a lot of people.

    I’ll submit that it’s a given that most Americans are not racially prejudiced (thankfully our society has improved greatly on that front), have a natural sense of justice, of fairness, and of right and wrong. This affects how we interact with the ‘market.’ If you contend that society is majorly prejudiced (more than 50% of consumers) the whole chain of logic fails and laws must remain in place.

    I, personally, don’t care who makes the products I purchase or services I consume (so long as they are produced legally and harm nobody), and neither do the vast majority of my contemporaries. A consumer’s primary consideration is price ? who provides the cheapest pair of shoes for the level of quality I can afford? Which store gives me a discount on an iPod? This is the model by which Wal-Mart has expanded a vast empire and thrived, by providing their own warehousing of products and purchasing at wholesale levels, they assume the risks and customers profit by reduced prices. There are lateral downsides of Wal-Mart’s business model too. For instance, the exploitation of cheap labor from developing countries such as China, but that problem is also a lateral downside of minimum wage laws, something beyond the scope of this discussion.

    Lots of things affect consumption, but price is king. Other major factors are things like a company’s public image and branding. If a company develops a reputation for doing underhanded things, so long as they don’t have a monopoly, such as discriminating against minorities, the public punishes them with boycotts (these don’t actually have to be organized to be effective, and spreading the word that a business discriminates isn’t libel or slander, so long as it’s the truth).

    When companies must compete with one another, they cannot afford to lose market share to their competitors or they face going out of business. The more competition increases, the more a company must focus on its primary objective: profit. That has a positive lateral benefit of mainstreaming the company’s values to match the values of most of the customers, the better the fit the better their profit margins.

    This scales fractally. Even if there’s a major company in a southern state who routinely discriminates against minorities, they face the loss of their business to competition both within the state and outside it (larger companies with a presence in multiple states). Even if the citizenry wants to maintain the status quo (supporting the prejudiced values of the company) profit is still the overriding concern and outcompeting the company will result in increased pressure to conform to the least discriminatory pratices.

    A company who employs minority workers in such a state will be able to compete with the incumbents on the cost of labor alone: they’d be cheaper to employ and the end price of the product will naturally be lower. As competition on price escalates and the new company gains market share, the salaries of workers will go up when the tipping point is reached (they have so much market that the discriminating competitior folds). They can then raise prices and their workers will enjoy wage equality (if it’s a particularly competitive company, they’ll earn better than the average wage).

    There are ways corporations can “cheat” when the number of providers of a good or service are small, but it becomes dramatically more difficult to do so when laws favor increases in competition.

    That’s the general idea.

  283. #284 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Ward S. Denker,

    You make it all sound so complicated. Markets are an emergent phenomenon that occurs in human societies where people have goods or services to exchange. The prices change to bring demand and supply into balance in the short term, in the long term supply increases or decreases depending on the costs of the inputs for producing the supply. The subjective values of consumers synthesized in the relative prices of various good and services, and they determine what gets produced rather than some central planner’s values.

    Capitalism overlays upon this the recognition that through deferral of consumption, some production can be devoted to improving productivity and the amount of overall goods and services available.

    The abstract mechanisms are race neutral. The abstract ideal can be distorted by government policies or high information costs, or externalities, such as behaviors which impose costs on others, such as pollution.

  284. #285 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Don’t encourage him Sven. See, now I have to change my ruby slippers into muck boots.

  285. #286 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Africangenesis (#285)

    The meat of what I said was only 5 paragraphs short (that’s pretty brief, for me!). I tried to avoid terminology outside the vernacular (knowing my audience is not just Sven and few are economists).

    I try… :P

  286. #287 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Patricia (#286)

    You’re welcome to correct the flaws in my logic, otherwise I’m inclined to snark (shush, the adults are talking).

  287. #288 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    I’m not here to correct logic.
    My job is to make ignorant slutty remarks, quote the bible, mind the trebuchet and twirl.

  288. #289 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Patricia (#289)

    quote the bible

    By this, you mean, “quote all the best parts of the bible” (i.e., the ones that make Christians squirm trying to defend), right?

  289. #290 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Ward =/= adult. Just an L-word idiot.

  290. #291 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    “Just an L-word idiot.” He’s a lesbian?

  291. #292 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Nerd of Redhead (#291)

    You’re welcome to discredit me, or do you lack the testicular fortitude?

    It’s quite obvious that fear and ignorance drives you. You’re well aware that any argument you’d give would be eviscerated in front of your peers, so you’ll stick to comfort zones, like ad hominems and invectives. Learning something from a Libertarian would so offend you that you’d have to commit suicide on the spot to salvage your honor as a good little liberal twit, wouldn’t it?

  292. #293 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Why Nerd, look he twitted you. *Pffft*

  293. #294 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Ward, it took me 15 minutes to determine that libertarianism is a morally bankrupt political philosophy twenty years ago. I don’t argue with people who are so dumb they can’t see the problems. And that includes you, you intellectual light weight.

  294. #295 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Nerd of Redhead (#295)

    Well, I see two options for you then. You can take the time to educate yourself and relieve yourself of ignorance, or you can live in you sad little state of denial, forever insulated by your own willful stupidity from learning anything new.

    I know which of the two you’ve chosen before I wasted keystrokes on you. I choose the road less traveled by, it has made all the difference.

  295. #296 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead#295,

    “twenty years ago”, how convenient. That makes it less subject to review. I assume you don’t remember the finer points of your “determination”, yet you are sure it was right. It must have been right a priori, since you seem to assume that subsequent evidence couldn’t over turn it. It must have been impressive. Too bad you didn’t publish.

  296. #297 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Ward, I have no respect for your intellect, and I will not let you choose my paths. You are not worthy to do so, and never will be. You need to remove the stick from your butt and quit dissing other people, including Patricia.

  297. #299 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Dissing Patrica’OM#289 might be redundant: “My job is to make ignorant slutty remarks, quote the bible, mind the trebuchet and twirl.” She obviously doesn’t intend to be taken seriously. A bot perhaps? She might not pass the turing test.

  298. #300 Wowbagger
    January 31, 2009

    Walton wrote:

    This is why I am opposed – to take an example – to Kevin Rudd (Australian PM)’s decision to “apologise” to indigenous Australians for the way they were treated by white settlers. It rests on an inherently racist assumption, viz. the idea that one person is somehow morally responsible for the crimes of another person of the same race or national origin.

    As an Australian* I’ll point out that I, for one, am proud Kevin Rudd apologised. It needed to be done, and the greater proportion of the Australian public supported it – it was one of the reasons the Rudd government won office; democracy in action.

    That aside, I’ll also point out he apologised for what is called the ‘Stolen Generation’ rather than generic mistreatment.

    Lastly, he was apologising for the role the government played. I guess if helps if you look at the government of a nation as a continuum rather than a succession (or alternation, since we’re pretty much two-party as well) of independent entities.

    That’s my take anyway, and – somewhat unusually for me – it seems to one I share with the majority of my countryfolk.

    *Not sure where the others – John Morales, Kel, Clinteas, Bride of Shrek etc.- are, but it’s Sunday morning here; maybe they’re all at Church…

  299. #301 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Ward say something? It must have been stupid.

  300. #302 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Thanks for the concern, I’m still glowing from passing the test in September. Speaking to me in a condescending manner is a perfect way to show off your sexism. I’m immune to it, I used to be a christian.

  301. #303 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Patricia’OM#303,

    Are you blaming your lack of substance on your sex? What a mysogynist you are. Take some personal responsibility.

  302. #304 Wowbagger
    January 31, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    You’re entering a world of shit. Run away now and you might be lucky.

  303. #305 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Wowbagger#305,

    You’re right, I should just ignore her, pending substance.

  304. #306 Wowbagger, Grumpy Minimalist
    January 31, 2009

    Fair enough. History will show that I tried to save him, but he did not listen. Just like Caesar and the Ides of March.

  305. #307 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    My sex has nothing to do with it. Your judgement of my substance is meaningless. You may call me a misogynist until you exhaust yourself for all I care. But Wowbagger is right, there are others here who care very much about that subject, and you would do yourself a favor to drop it.

  306. #308 Ben
    January 31, 2009

    AG, I’m very disappointed in you. Where are your standards now?

  307. #309 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Patricia, there was a reason why I killfiled AG shortly after he showed up. Seems that I was right in my judgment.

  308. #310 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    Ben,

    My standards are down the tubes. I can’t believe I’ve sunk so low. I’ve called someone a racist and someone else a misogynist. I shouldn’t have responded to the name calling, but it comes so easily at this blog. I apologize. From now on, I’ll attempt to characterize the post or the concept and not the person. I hope.

  309. #311 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Africangenesis (#311)

    Even a rose has thorns. When one goes sniffing about in business not their own, one should expect a prick.

  310. #312 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Janine – As usual, you were right. ;o)

  311. #313 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Ward, AG, it doesn’t take much to realize that libertarianism and communism (well talked about when I was an undergraduate) are the opposite ends of a political spectrum, and both are morally bankrupt. Libertarianism forgets the common good, and communism forgets individual accomplishment. The forgetting either is the moral bankruptcy. To not be morally bankrupt requires what is considered Liberal under present descriptions of American political theories, where both the common good and individual accomplishment are considered. I don’t argue with ideologues, as they don’t listen. I learned that lesson almost 40 years ago.

  312. #314 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    Re: Nerd of Redhead (#314)

    The ignorance comes out.

    The polar opposites are, as follows:

    Fascism (extreme right) and Communism (extreme left)
    Libertarianism and statism are the opposites.

    Or, in a diagram:

    Anarchy (top)
    ^
    |
    Libertarianism
    |
    Communism <- (D) <–|–> (R) -> Fascism
    v
    |
    Statism
    |
    Dictatorship

    The most extreme form of libertarianism is anarchy (the traditional meaning of the word ? no government, not necessarily the vernacular form meaning ‘chaos’), but most libertarian are more centrist minarchists, preferring some government but recognizing that the excesses of state lead to ever-increasing loss of freedom.

    Usually the worst statist governments are dictatorships ? where absolute power rests not with representative government but with one sole leader. (Hitler, Stalin, etc.)

    In the center square are, not surprisingly, centrists. They can be all over the board, picking and choosing which elements of state they accept and reject.

    You can even see the evidence in the word itself, statism is where most of your ‘rights’ belong to the state. Libertarianism is the polar opposite where your rights belong to you (liberty).

    So, by that diagram, a statist right (the spectrum neocons are on) is headed toward fascism. The statist left is the spectrum you’re on (socialist heading toward communist).

    There are left and right libertarians (small ‘l’) too, who usually focus on issues like the legitimacy/illegitimacy of property rights.

  313. #315 Ward S. Denker
    January 31, 2009

    You should envision that diagram as cross-shaped.

    Clarifying, the reason that fascism and communism are polar opposites (and not libertarianism and communism) is because they focus on wealth distribution.

    In a fascist society the structure of law concentrates all of the wealth in the hands of the ruling class. In a communistic society the wealth is intended to be distributed equally among all.

    You’re mixing the social and economic aspects, which is what is confusing your view of it.

  314. #316 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    Wowbagger @301, I too think Rudd’s apology was appropriate (though I also consider it was symbolic), and generally agree with your assessment – it was the Government apologising for past injustice.

    – OOT
    PS Sunday mornings are squash practice for me, I only just got back home and I’m replentishing my vital fluids with a cool one :)
    I do drive past the Lutheran church at Eden Valley on the way home, and usually see all the old people trudging out of church…
    PPS One of the squashies at the club is a Pastor – we call him the “faster Pastor”


    PPS, here is the apology, Walton:
    “[...] We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

    We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

    For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

    To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

    And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

    We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

    [...]“

  315. #317 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    AG, patronising Patricia only shows your ignorance; she’s Patricia OM.

  316. #318 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    John,

    I was already aware of the ‘OM, Patricia got it “for generally refreshing snarkiness”. Not a high standard. Sometimes it gets a little stale, and amounts to expressing an uninformed opinion. I assume PZ would have felt differently, if he disagreed with it, or if she targeted him.

  317. #319 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    AG:

    I was already aware of the ‘OM, Patricia got it “for generally refreshing snarkiness”. Not a high standard.

    Yeah, Pharyngula and PZ don’t have high standards for an OM – pretty much anyone will do.

    Heh. We know you think your discernment is superior to that of your interlocutors, so no surprise here.

  318. #320 Ben
    January 31, 2009

    AG, you are beginning to unravel. Sad to see it.

  319. #321 Rev. BigDumbChimp, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Yeah, Pharyngula and PZ don’t have high standards for an OM – pretty much anyone will do.

    Duh.

  320. #322 Africangenesis
    January 31, 2009

    My bad. I should have been more impressed.

  321. #323 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Did Ward acknowledge he is wrong? If not, then we have nothing to say to one another. He is a fool and a tool. Maybe with age, he will learn wisdom. But I’m not holding my breath.

  322. #324 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    A Chimp, a Slut and a Nerd, O my!

    Um, was there a topic or something to this thread? I forget…

    Oh yeah, no atheist bus signs here in Oz, but lots of publicity on the TV. Heh.

  323. #325 oaksterdam
    January 31, 2009

    /lurk

    Ward, starting with your first post here you’ve been a smug dick. AG, you actually made Ward seem reasonable.

    The smartest person in the room is rarely the self-righteous douchenozzle who’s acting like it. Call that friendly advice.

    Now you’re just pissing on the people who make this a blog a joy to lurk at. Nice work.

    Obviously neither of you like it here. And I doubt liberals are going to learn much from a libertarian who shows up on the blog of a ‘godless liberal’ to call them ‘twits’. Well, ok, i did learn something. The regulars tend to be smart and funny and likable. You two? Not so much.

    /rant

  324. #326 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Oaksterdam,

    5 of the 9 threads you’ve posted in have “Molly” in the title. You appear to be here for a social club, not a science blog. We are discussing ideas in a place where they may be challenged. Hopefully, you can learn from someone, even if he or she isn’t the smartest one in the room. Perhaps you can even learn more from someone you disagree with than someone you agree with. Steel is forged in fire. If people like me didn’t stick around, you would continue to think that people you disagree with were driveby trolls pasting from a script. I suspect there are a number of people here, not the regulars, who weren’t aware that there was an intellectual right that could defend its positions, and had an alternative to a centrally planned command and control society. Having a frustratingly challenging and good response to every point your friends make is not self righteousness, it is just having the discipline to have challenged oneself before being challenged by others, and so knowing the lay of ones own land. Perhaps the smartest in the room is not the one with the answers, but the one with the most incisive questions.

  325. #327 John Morales
    February 1, 2009

    oaksterdam, thanks. Nice to hear one of the (near) silent majority!

    AG, did you note my attempt to get somewhat on topic @325?

    Pleasant as it is to see you condescend and patronise other commenters, as you said, it’s about ideas. Ideas on-topic might even be more meritworthy than explaining Pharyngula to one of the lurkers here.

    So, whaddayareckon re Aussie non-bus ads? Good, bad, indifferent?

  326. #328 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Yes, I saw #325. Weak attempt to get back on topic. #328 was better. I voted: “Maybe, but it depends on the wording of the advertisement”. Which is the same standard I presume is applied to religious ads, i.e., there should be no discrimination.

  327. #329 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    You should envision that diagram as cross-shaped.

    Not at all, no. You should envision it as square — as a mathematical diagram where the x axis is economic freedom and the y axis is social freedom.

    Like this.

    You, Mr Thinker, are probably in a corner of the square.

  328. #330 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: David Marjanovi?, OM (#330)

    Indeed, I would have drawn a diamond, but ASCII art in a comment box isn’t particularly effective.

    Sad to see that Nerd is just ignoring what I had to say. No matter how old you get you never have to stop learning, and it’s OK to admit you were wrong and learned something from someone else.

    Oaksterdam,

    I’ve been insulted routinely since I started posting here. I ask, politely, for a little civility and the attacks get worse. I retaliate and everyone says I’m a douche for it. Make up your minds, please. You can’t have it both ways. We can have a civil discussion or we can have a vitriol-spewing match, but don’t expect that you should not be treated in kind to how I am treated.

    Calling me a “self-righteous douchenozzle,” funny as it might be, is simply admitting that you have nothing to add to the discussion but invectives and that you’ve already conceded defeat. Consider that.

    I am perhaps not the best communicator when it comes to things I’m passionate and knowledgable about. I chalk it up to being misunderstood because not everyone feels that way about me.

  329. #331 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Ward S. Denker,

    I think I am the one that was being called the name with mysogynistic overtones. “douchenozzle”? Unless he intended it as a compliment, he had better run away now, he is going to be in a world of hurt.

  330. #332 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    At the risk of steering yet another thread into the perilous straits of liber*****ism, I just wanted to thank Mr. Denker, sincerely, for the Econ 101 thing back there in #284. It all sounds so nice and logical: because ideally markets are blind to skin color, ideally functioning markets will erase all race-based discrimination. You have filled in the logic behind Walton’s phrase.
    But my reaction is the same as my original reaction to Walton: Fantasyland. People–real people–simply don’t behave in the way your market assumes. Real people are ignorant. Real people are stupid. Real people just don’t care. Real people are greedy. Real people are bone-deep racists. Real people are each uniquie. For documentation I’d suggest a Saturday afternoon field trip to your nearest real Wal-Mart.

  331. #333 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Indeed, I would have drawn a diamond,

    No, it’s not a diamond. The tips of your diamond are the centers of the sides of the square, not the corners. People like Sarah Failin’ would be outside your diamond because they are in a corner of the square.

    but ASCII art in a comment box isn’t particularly effective.

    It is feasible, however: the <pre> tag is allowed.

  332. #334 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Sven DiMilo,

    I guess we are lucky we aren’t real people. 8-)

    It turns out it doesn’t matter how rational the people are, the market synthesizes their subjective values and coordinates production to meet those values in a self-organizing fashion that exceeds the ability of central planning to represent their values. They may make the choices that the all seeing scientific planner would make, or achieve some global optimimum. But people are “satisficed” with an efficiency that no cumbersome parasitic beaurocracy could hope to match.

  333. #335 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    I assume PZ would have felt differently, if he disagreed with it, or if she targeted him. – africangenesis

    PZ just counts the votes for OMs. Are you saying he would cheat if someone disagreed with him? (As I have, vehemently on occasion – and I still got an OM.)

  334. #336 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: David Marjanovi?, OM (#330)

    I missed the last line. No, I am closer to the axis, but probably a bit right because of economics.

    The problem with using “The Political Compass” over the one I drew is that it combines social and economic positions, which is fine for many discussions but it muddies the issues.

    For the purposes of discussion here, I recognize that most of our disagreements will be over economics, not social policy. On most issues, Democrats are social libertarians, it’s majorly economics we’d be arguing about. Aside from a few issues (like gun rights) most of us will agree on those. Removing them entirely from the graph and drawing it to focus on economics alone, we arrive at one like I drew.

    I, personally, am in favor of almst no corporate protectionism (corporate welfare, bailouts, tariffs, etc.) but some restrictions on corporate power (i.e. anti-trade law ? with reasonable limitations on the application of it). The right libertarians are all about property rights and some of them are so far right that they look just like the characterization I’ve seen from several here “Republicans who want to smoke pot.” That’s probably ignoring a lot of social issues though. Republicans are far too statist (as are Democrats) for my tastes.

    My general take is that individuals should have as much social and economic freedom allowable whilst supporting government intervention where government has proven to be effective. On economics I lean toward government intervention wherever it actually works (and has little to no collateral damage in the form of negative externalities). That naturally puts me on the libertarian end of the scale because government shows it to be ineffective (and even harmful) on a lot of things it has attempted.

    There are reasons that I’ve been characterized as “mild.” It’s also why I’m annoyed when someone starts a sentence with “every Libertarian I ever met was…” because, as you can see, there are an awful lot of takes on Libertarianism. Mine is more centrist than most and the majority of us are probably more like me than they are extremist nuts.

  335. #337 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    I stand corrected. I see now. I thought those comments on the right were PZ’s comments, so I hadn’t noticed that a voting paradigm was being adhered to. So those comments on the right are comments of others, selected for some reason?

  336. #338 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Sven,

    It’s useless. Few of them will ever check their abstract theory against real-world evidence, historical or contemporary. (Never ceases to amaze me how much they sound like state Communists with a few terms changed.)

    (As I have, vehemently on occasion – and I still got an OM.)

    And let’s not forget about truth machine (well, not while we’re on this topic).

  337. #339 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    But people are “satisficed” with an efficiency that no cumbersome parasitic beaurocracy could hope to match. – Africangenesis

    Yeah, all those people living in slums, begging on the streets or slaving for a pittance sure look “satisficed”. You smug, callous, sanctimonious arsehole.

  338. #340 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Congrats Knockgoats, I must have missed your winning. ;o)

  339. #341 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    I figured out why they Just Don’t Get It. It’s this misguided certainty in their own predictions of the emergent behavior of population-level behavior. (It’s like Asimov’s Psychohistory concept.) My limited understanding of history suggests to me the opposite conclusion: that large groups of people behave in irrational and inherently unpredictable ways all the time.
    Also, they don’t seem to acknowledge to importance of beginning conditions; like, turn on the Free-Market Ideal right now and inevitably all the existing racial discrimination disappears?
    As it happens, I was at a Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon. It’s seriously educational.

  340. #342 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats#340,

    Of course I meant them. Hundreds of millions of them have been lifted out of poverty with less than two decades of liberalization by India and China, after socialism had failed them for decades. Some things take time, you can’t produce wealth by fiat, although I do think the world economy would benefit if the US judiciously printed money in the right way, since capacity is currently underutilized.

    Too bad economic freedom wasn’t tried earlier, I assume your attitude means it has spoiled some grand coercive plan of yours.

  341. #343 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp@163,
    Hey, no need to apologise! On the contrary, grateful thanks. I’ve bookmarked this page so I can refer the likes of N. Schuster here in future.

  342. #344 Stephen Wells
    February 1, 2009

    335 is a completely unjustified claim. Among others.

  343. #345 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Sven DeMilo#342,

    Tsk, tsk. Walmart is one of the mechanisms by which wealth is being transferred to the third world. You are not supposed to oppose that. You aren’t going to spout some protectionist apologia now are you?

  344. #346 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    The comments on the right are a sampling of the votes. Anyone can vote. Most people vote with a suggestion as to why they choose their nominee.

    Cuttlefish is the most nominated commenter.

  345. #347 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    And Kim gets it, by virtue of a population enclosed and fully segregated. Poor fools. – Crudely Wrott

    I doubt it. I’d bet that the Kim dictatorship does not last another decade; and that when it goes, there will be very few who regret its demise. Kim Jong Il is not likely to last long after his recent stroke, and such family dictatorships rarely last for more than two generations.

  346. #348 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Stephen Wells,

    Your rejection of #335 is so blanket as to be meaningless. How do you explain markets preceding capitalism by a dozen or more centuries? How do you explain black markets? What less-than-omniscient central planner do you hope to serve?

  347. #349 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: David Marjanovi?, OM (#330)

    I took the time to go through the test, here’s my result. As predicted, I’m not particularly far from the axis, slightly right on economics.

    I’m obviously not an extremist of any stripe, so why all the hostility? Even being slightly ‘right’ on anything is too right for this crowd?

  348. #350 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    AG, I’m obviously not opposed to Wal-Mart enough to actually boycott it. I am consumed by liberal guilt, though, in the aftermath, so there’s that. I think protectionism is an option that’s pretty much defunct anymore, except in some particular cases. I have nothing against poor people in China making a living. I’ll admit I’d like to live in a fairer world. My problems with Wal-Mart are more environmental than social or economic in any event.
    But I wasn’t suggesting a Wal-Mart visit as an exercise in economics or sociology or environmental science anyway. I meant it more anthropologically and more misanthropically: go to observe the customers, the real people that you think will act rationally and for the common good en masse.
    Fantasyland.

  349. #351 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Hundreds of millions of them have been lifted out of poverty with less than two decades of liberalization by India and China, after socialism had failed them for decades. – Africangenesis

    India was of course never socialist – the vast majority of its wealth always remained in private hands, and it remained part of the capitalist world-system. It did impose import tariffs behind which its industries could develop (as has every country that has ever developed industrially), and poured vast sums into public education. This put it in a position where it could indeed benefit a significant minority by opening up its economy. The majority remain extremely poor, and malnutrition is very widespread. The likelihood is that this will remain so, as the rich corner a larger and larger share of resources, including the land; but India’s well-entrenched democratic institutions may prevent this.

    China was indeed socialist, although as it was a very brutal dictatorship it was a form of socialism I abhor. The key reform was Deng’s return of land title to the peasants in 1978, of which I completely approve – as I do land reform anywhere that assigns “land to the tiller” and ensures that this remains the case by restrictions on land markets. China of course remains a largely centrally-planned economy, and as such has shown quite remarkable growth, although with heavy social and environmental costs. We will see in the next few years the outcome of the policy of reintegration into the capitalist world-system: much depends on whether it can now generate sufficient domestic demand to cope with the slump in export demand. My hunch is that it cannot, and will suffer severe disruption.

    Too bad economic freedom wasn’t tried earlier, I assume your attitude means it has spoiled some grand coercive plan of yours.

    So when and where was this “libertarian” utopia where everyone was “satisficed”?

    I do indeed believe that coercion is sometimes necessary, as of course do you, but unlike you, I’m a democrat: I believe everyone should have an equal say in when and where it is applied.

  350. #352 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    apologists for brutal dictatorships around the world – from the Soviet Union to Hugo Chavez. – Walton

    Chavez has some authoritarian tendencies, but he has been elected and re-elected in elections certified free and fair by international observers. Opposition parties operate openly and recently won control of several states in regional elections, and defeated a Chavez-backed referendum. The vast majority of the Venezuelan media are anti-Chavez. There are no political prisoners; even those who organised the coup against him remain at liberty. To call his government a “brutal dictatorship” is a barefaced lie.

  351. #353 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    My general take is that individuals should have as much social and economic freedom allowable whilst supporting government intervention where government has proven to be effective. On economics I lean toward government intervention wherever it actually works (and has little to no collateral damage in the form of negative externalities).

    Of course, almost everyone here agrees with you on that — the differences lie in where people think “government has proven effective” and where “government intervention [...] actually works”. :-)

    Interesting results on your test. And my sympathies, because there’s probably no politician that represents you even approximately.

    Of course I meant them. Hundreds of millions of them have been lifted out of poverty with less than two decades of liberalization by India and China, after socialism had failed them for decades.

    What is it exactly that you call “socialism”? Would you call the economic policies of both Maoist China and the contemporary EU “socialist”? Because… that the former has failed says little about the latter.

    I’d bet that the Kim dictatorship does not last another decade; and that when it goes, there will be very few who regret its demise.

    I fear there’ll be lots who’ll regret its demise, because they’re brainwashed by being kept in ignorance.

  352. #354 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Sven DiMilo (#351)

    You see, you’re illustrating a “shades of gray” approach to your interaction with Wal-Mart. I suppose that, all things being equal, if a competitor of Wal-Mart sells an identical good that you desire at a comparable price, you’d shop at the competitor instead? You probably avoid Wal-Mart whenever you can, don’t you?

    While price is everyone’s primary concern (especially in this economy), there are overriding concerns people apply to the market. In your case, you illustrate a slight aversion to Wal-Mart on social grounds (you discomfort with exploitation of international labor as opposed to local labor) and more of an aversion on environmental grounds.

    Would it stand to reason that there are others like you, who make similar decisions in the market for similar reasons? It’s in Wal-Mart’s best interest to try and pursue all customers, which will cause them to adapt (over time) to a point of view which is closer to yours over time, provided they continue to have competition over price (which is why you probably still shop there sometimes).

    This is the synthesis of ideas AG was talking about. To affect corporate America, you need only protect competition (through law), avoid creating laws that create behavioral externalities (protectionism), and let the market do the work. It doesn’t require anything as extreme as boycotting (a black and white perspective) to drive business to behave as you’d like them to. It just requires market equality and an informed society.

  353. #355 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    I’m all about shades of grey. Yes, I avoid Wal-Mart and went there yesterday for specific reasons.

    It just requires market equality and an informed society.

    These are precisely the two requirements that I believe are unrealistic.

  354. #356 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Posted by: David Marjanovi?, OM | February 1, 2009


    I’d bet that the Kim dictatorship does not last another decade; and that when it goes, there will be very few who regret its demise.

    I fear there’ll be lots who’ll regret its demise, because they’re brainwashed by being kept in ignorance.

    Sadly, you are right. Look at the small population of Russians who still view Stalin as a great leader.

  355. #357 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats#352,

    The poor were satisficed within their means as well as their values. Of course they couldn’t wish wealth into existence. India’s protectionism was not just against competition but against capital also. They had swallowed the “exploitation” rhetoric.

    The free world should be viewed as an example to be emulated, not a victim to be sucked dry. Why shouldn’t they produce their own wealth with the trade and investment freely offered, rather than eat the seed corn that makes all poorer in the future?

  356. #358 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Sven DiMilo (#356)

    Well, as for an ‘informed society,’ we live in a time where we have more access to information than at any point in the history of our species. Our capacity to utilize just how much information is out there may not be that great, but that’s only going to increase. Compare and contrast the younger generations with the older generations. There’s a huge gap in access to information systems, but that will fall off as time goes by.

    Market equality suggests protecting competition, something you seem to be in favor of (or at least not hindering it). You did say that you don’t believe protectionism works?

    You’re obviously a cynic about the rationality of consumers, but does that really suggest that consumers aren’t, by-and-large, actually rational? I submit that it only appears that way because they’re reacting to irrational impedances, ones which are invisible at their level of interaction with the market. Bad protectionist laws create impedances like that. What you’re probably looking at is the externalities, perverse incentives promoted by ill-thought-out policy. That would certainly make society appear to be doing irrational things, en mass, would it not?

    Imagine a school of fish, moving around and interacting as they always do, in a deep, placid lake. So long as they have no predators, they will not appear to be acting irrationally. Now, throw in some predators and watch their reactions. They’re finicky, agitated, and risk averse. These predators may be bottom-dwellers and the fish themselves may never actually see what it is that they fear, driving them to be increasingly irrational.

    Corporations lobby the government for protectionist policies, as do well-meaning individuals and organizations. The policies affect the behavior of everything within the system. Remove them, and they’ll return to their normal, rational behavior.

    It’s exactly why counter-terrorism laws in this country are so bad (the Patriot act). The goal of terrorism is to predate the population and to inspire primal fear among a population. It polarizes behavior by forcing people to be more aggressive within their own population and militaristic toward outside population, which feeds the rationalizations that terrorists already were making and creates more terrorists.

    Looking at our country’s airport security, one would conclude that people are irrational. We take off our shoes, confiscate nail clippers and water bottles, etc. It’s not that we’re being irrational, we’re being risk-averse. The only solution to that problem is information, not legislation.

  357. #359 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    The poor were satisficed within their means as well as their values. – Africangenesis

    I think I can leave this piece of sanctimonious bilge to speak for itself.

    The free world should be viewed as an example to be emulated, not a victim to be sucked dry.

    You continue to pretend that the wealth of the rich countries was generated, and is maintained, without exploiting the poor ones. In other words, you continue the racist victim-blaming in which you specialise.
    You completely ignore – indeed I doubt you have the slightest idea – how actually existing capitalism works. If you can’t be bothered to try to un derstand the history of capitalism over the past half-millennium, I suggest you at least take a look at how the terms of trade have shifted against primary producers of minerals and tropical agricultural commodities in the past half-century, while the rich have continued to protect their farmers with tariff walls and export subsidies. Of course, if the poor countries try to emulate the way the rich have got rich – even to the extent of imposing tariffs to protect burgeoning industries as every industrialised country has done – they get it in the neck unless they are big enough – like India – to stand up for themselves.

  358. #360 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    I fear there’ll be lots who’ll regret its [the Kim dictatorship's] demise, because they’re brainwashed by being kept in ignorance. David Marjanovi?, OM

    I doubt it: they are having a shitty time in absolute rather than just relative terms, and you can’t fool people about that. China has considerable problems keeping North Korean refugees out. Janine’s point about Stalin is interesting, but I think that’s a protest against the degree to which the economic security and living standards of most people have declined in Russia since capitalism was restored, while a small, greedy minority have grown immensely rich (many of them of course ex-Soviet nomenklatura or their kids). Few people will actually remember Stalin – he died 55 years ago, so you need to be well into your 60s to do so. They do know that Russia was feared and respected, and won a great war under him.

  359. #361 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Look at the small population of Russians who still view Stalin as a great leader.

    There aren’t many of those, but lots and lots still revere Lenin.

  360. #362 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: KnockGoats (#360)

    I think you’re being too hard an AG. I don’t think he means that the poor are ‘happy’ with their situation as much as that they have no incentive to try and get out of it. In fact, policies that are designed to help them actually create an incentive to remain unproductive.

    I don’t know how old you are, but I’ll assume ? for the sake of argument ? that you both went to high school and have been out of it for some time. Look at the risk/reward system in place for doing well in school. You probably knew some high achievers, students everyone characterized as being goody-two-shoes, stuck up, etc. You also probably knew some particularly low achievers as well, characterized sometimes as popular (the ‘jocks’) or wildly unpopular (‘rejects’). They’re all, supposedly, there to work toward the goal of graduation. Some are capable of recognizing the reward of achievement, while others reject scholastic achievement (sometimes as a form of protest against the establishment, sometimes in favor of the pursuit of other goals – like sports). They set the bar low for themselves and achieve precisely as they can be predicted to achieve, not just within high school but outside it as well.

    The highest achievers usually go on to generate wealth ? they’re attracted toward prestigious opportunities in business, medicine, law, etc. The lowest achievers… they end up flipping burgers, or worse. If the over-achievers make poor decisions, they may end up average, or it may not harm them because opportunity abounds. To them, there’s always more money to be made somehow (and that’s not saying they are doing anything wrong).

    If the lowest achievers make poor decisions, they may have four childen with another on the way, are unmarried and supported by the state.

    By presuming to help these people with the powers of government, you’re really creating an externality. You send the message to the over-achievers (don’t bother to achieve, your wealth will be taken from you to support under-achievers). That changes attitudes at a fundamental level and everyone begins to achieve only as well as they must in order to get by. Achievers may pop up in some places, and create surplus, but more simply give up because there is no incentive to do so. Because you cut down the productive capabilities of your highest achievers, you hurt everyone equally. That’s why communism has never ended poverty, and never shall.

    The answer is not government, it’s education and a shift in cultural outlook. We must find out why it is that some people make the decision to not be productive, to not achieve. Achievers don’t “steal” what they get, they earn it. One needn’t even be particularly smart to be an achiever either (Bush), they just need to try.

  361. #363 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats#360,

    It is interesting that you blame capitalism but when you get specific you point to the deviations from capitalism such as tarifs. Of course I oppose tarifs and subsidies, and most recently I especially fault the ethanol subsidies and barriers to trade that raised food prices everywhere. It is interesting that whenever centrally commanded decisions and the ruling elites do something wrong, you want to blame freedom for it. The probably with you centrally coercing types is that you always assume you will be coercer rather than the coercee. BTW, You can’t point to anything racist is my position, you are making it up out of whole cloth.

  362. #364 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    David Marjanovi?, OM,

    No, you’re wrong: it is indeed Stalin and not Lenin who is widely considered a “great leader” in Russia, according to opinion polls. Russia has a long tradition of brutal “modernisers”: Ivan the Terrible, Peter “the Great”, Catherine “the Great” and Stalin himself. Lenin was only in power a few years (late 1917 to mid-1922 when he had his first stroke), and these were mostly occupied by WWI and the Civil War.

  363. #365 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    By the way, using the example I gave (schooling) there is a possible method to incentivize education.

    Why not pay students for it and penalize cheaters greatly? It’s a time during which, as juveniles, we make poor decisions due to lack of motivation and experience. Paying a student to achieve gets them ready for participation in the market at an earlier time and gives them hands-on experience with it. It gives them both motivation and experience they otherwise would not have, and the end result would be higher levels of scholastic achievement (so long as the system is fair).

  364. #366 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    It is interesting that you blame capitalism but when you get specific you point to the deviations from capitalism such as tarifs. – Africangenesis

    Tariffs are, of course, a key feature of capitalism and always have been. That’s exactly what I mean by saying you have absolutely no understanding of how actually existing capitalism works – and are evidently determined to keep it that way.

    It is interesting that whenever centrally commanded decisions and the ruling elites do something wrong, you want to blame freedom for it.

    By freedom, of course, you mean the freedom of the rich to concentrate wealth and power even further in their hands. I, on the contrary, want freedom for all – which is only possible if economic inequality is greatly reduced.

    The probably with you centrally coercing types is that you always assume you will be coercer rather than the coercee.

    To call me a “centrally coercing type” is so ludicrous as to be laughable, as regulars here who are not blinded by their own ideology know. My views differ mainly in emphasis from those of anarchists such as SC. I favour, as I have said more than once, direct democracy, where everyone gets an equal say. This of course means that while I favour a high degree of public ownership, I want this only with majority consent, and only as long as that consent is retained. I also do not favour top-down planning, but negotiated coordination and a considerable degree of local and regional self-sufficiency – although there are some decisions that affect everyone, and so should be taken at a global level.

    You can’t point to anything racist is my position
    *Snort*
    You refuse to recognise the responsibility of those who are born rich in large part because Europeans grabbed vast amounts of land or resources by force or fraud, that you sanctimoniously blame African and Native Americans for their poverty, and that you consider Iraqis “ungrateful” for objecting to US imperialism. As with capitalism, you don’t even know what racism is; it is telling that you only ever complain about alleged anti-European racism. Racism is not simply racial prejudice; it is support for institutional arrangements and economic structures that maintain ethnic hierarchies – and of course there is, for historical reasons, no significant European population anywhere that is on the wrong end of these hierarchies. So you whine about imagined slights to Europeans, while denying the existence of real racism.

  365. #367 KnockGotts
    February 1, 2009

    Ward S. Denker@363,7

    Why not try looking at the real world for a change? Experience in western Europe, particularly Scandinavia, shows that you are simply talking total bilge. But then, I’ve never yet known that to bother a libertarian.

  366. #368 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    If anyone wants to know the extent to which Wal-Mart represents freedom, try working at one (especially if you’re black and/or female). Try feeding children and keeping them healthy on your wages, and getting paid for overtime. Try unionizing at one, in the face of threats, intimidation, and harassment. Try keeping one out of your town (well, many towns and cities have succeeded at this, but these were hard struggles as Wal-Mart has done everything it can to subvert the democratic process). The film Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price has some information.

    But it’s not about one “bad apple,” even if that rotten entity is as powerful as Wal-Mart. Exploitation and hostility to real democracy (including sponsoring and taking advantage of the overthrow of democratically-elected governments and their replacement with brutal regimes) is part and parcel of capitalism. Bolivia’s new constitution is one step along the road away from imposed neoliberalism; El Salvador seems to be on a similar path, as do other localities. The question that worries me is: Will the corporations and their market-fundamentalist stooges accept that others disagree with them and want something different, or will they resort, as they have almost always, to violence and the overthrow of democracy in the name of their so-called economic freedom (aka the freedom to starve)?

  367. #369 'Tis Himself
    February 1, 2009

    One of my objections to libertarianism is that it’s utopian. Libertarians can not point to any example of a libertarian society (outside of dubious romantic versions of some pre-industrial societies like the tiny village society on Iceland). The anarcho-capitalist version of libertarianism (anarchy with property rights) is even farther removed from any historical example than more moderate libertarianism. If no libertarian society has ever evolved outside of fiction, then it is surely a utopian movement that has not even succeeded at creating a libertarian island or suburb or any community. Other erstwhile utopian groups such as communists, anarchists, Hare Krishnas, Shakers, Mennonites and others have all created communities to test out their ideals, but libertarians have not. Thus, libertarians are utopian in the sense that they are promoting an imaginary society that they believe is more perfect than any other on earth, but that nobody has ever been willing or able to create.

  368. #370 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Tis Himself,

    Actually, you’re incorrect. Our own nation arose from anarcho-Libertarian concepts. We have a particular distinction of being one of the very few that have ever had a start when secularism was in vogue.

    Think about it, we conquered a continent and threw off a repressive monarchy during the enlightenment, and we actually structured our contry around secular/libertarian ideas! Our country then grew to be the most economically prosperous country in the world. As Democracy has led to more and more socialist policies, we find ourselves to now be a debtor nation with huge financial problems and an ever-weakening market.

    It’s you who are rejecting the reality of things.

  369. #371 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    The anarcho-capitalist version of libertarianism (anarchy with property rights)

    As I believe I’ve established here several times over, there is no such thing.

    Other erstwhile utopian groups such as communists, anarchists, Hare Krishnas, Shakers, Mennonites and others have all created communities to test out their ideals, but libertarians have not.

    There have been some groups of anarchists who have done so (and there are of course anarcho-primitivists today), but this has never been a big part of the anarchist movement. In fact, when Peter Kropotkin received letters from groups about their plans to build such communities, he discouraged them in the strongest possible terms (his letters are available online), himself focusing on transforming urban environments using science. The idea of isolated test communities is simply not widespread among anarchists. The notion that anarchism is a utopian, backward-looking, anti-technology movement was promoted by Marxists for decades, but it is a myth.

  370. #372 Walton
    February 1, 2009

    Thus, libertarians are utopian in the sense that they are promoting an imaginary society that they believe is more perfect than any other on earth, but that nobody has ever been willing or able to create.

    A genuinely libertarian society cannot exist in practice, for the following reason: Libertarianism requires a state, and a legal system, to defend property rights. Unfortunately, this requires a system of law – and to have a system of law, we need legislators. And when you have legislators, you immediately have special interests who want the government to use its coercive power to their advantage. Because the average citizen doesn’t understand economics and doesn’t give a damn, the special interests get away with it. Hence why almost all countries have subsidies and tariffs galore, despite the fact that no rational person can claim, objectively, that these things are good for the public.

    The only hypothetical way to achieve Libertopia would be to have a completely rigid and unchangeable system of law, which protected private property rights, arbitrated contracts and did absolutely nothing else. Even then, you’d have to rely on judges to enforce it – and who appoints the judges?

    So I agree that we, as libertarians, hold an unattainable goal. But we can work towards it; the perfect should never be the enemy of the good. For instance, we’re not going to achieve fully privatised education in the UK any time soon; but there’s a good chance that a future Tory government will bring in school vouchers – a major step in the right direction – if those of us who care about individual free choice lobby the right people.

    I also take your point that, since we have never achieved a libertarian society, we don’t know how well it will work in practice. However, I would point out that throughout history, wherever libertarian ideas have been applied to any area of public policy, they have improved things. From the abolition of the Corn Laws in nineteenth-century Britain, to the introduction of school vouchers in 1990s Sweden and Milwaukee, individual freedom tends to make things better. Of course, this isn’t conclusive evidence that more freedom will always make things better – indeed it possibly won’t. But compared to the dismal list of failures of government intervention throughout history, I think freedom has a pretty damn good track record.

  371. #373 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Walton (#373),

    I disagree with you that it can never happen. It will continue to happen in cycles, as it always has, until we recognize what it is that is generating the cycles to begin with.

    The systems always start out benign. A violent revolution or economic collapse clears away a repressive regime and, for a brief time, anarchy is the foundation for the new regime. In our country, we had a starting point of a libertarian point of view. Look at our Constitution. It’s the perpetual rejection of the ideas that founded our nation which has led us away from this state. It was designed to limit the growth of government and government ignores it. The solution to that is education, in my opinion.

    Our differences on this are that I’m slightly optimistic that humanity may eventually break this violent cycle because we’ll become more educated as we gather more information about our own behavior. We’re probably not getting dumber as a species (there are days I’d regret saying that!), so something resembling the ideal may come about as a result of that education.

    I could be bitter about it, I suppose, but that accomplishes nothing and concedes defeat: that freedom is elusive and can never be caught so long as we must share it with others.

  372. #374 'Tis Himself
    February 1, 2009

    Our own nation arose from anarcho-Libertarian concepts.

    No, Ward, the 18th Century United States (and the British colonies before 1776) were not by any stretch of the imagination libertarian. The Federal government was weaker but state and local governments were stronger. A country where only property-owning white adult males had the vote was not libertarian.

    All the tazwa were there except income tax. The equivalent of income tax was property tax (on all possessions) or head tax by many states. There was involuntary conscription, eminent domain, etc. As a matter of fact, things got much better when powers of states were interpreted to be restricted by the US constitution (much later), powers such as state religious authority.

    But, of course, you’re referring to laissez-faire free markets. Laissez-faire was rejected by the end of the 19th Century because it was obvious that it promoted an oligarchy where the rich got richer and the poor got the shaft (sort of like what’s happening these days). The ultimate result of laissez-faire is monopoly. When the monopolists like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie got seriously out of hand, the government stepped in and broke up the monopolies.

    Also, society was organized quite differently before the industrial revolution. Our “nation of shopkeepers” was actually a nation of farmers. The means of production were controlled primarily by the workers (who were the owners of the farms and shops). Government of that era would be as out-of-place today as the medicine and scientific knowledge of that era.

    We have a particular distinction of being one of the very few that have ever had a start when secularism was in vogue.

    So? I don’t understand your point with this non sequitur.

    Think about it, we conquered a continent and threw off a repressive monarchy during the enlightenment, and we actually structured our contry around secular/libertarian ideas!

    We stole a continent from the inhabitants. As for the “repressive monarchy,” civil rights in the American colonies were actually better than those in Britain. The major objection was “taxation without representation.” Various colonists, including Franklin and Jefferson, argued that Britain should either allow colonies representation in Parliament or not allow Parliament to impose taxes on the colonies. When these suggestions were rejected, then the Revolution became inevitable.

    As for your “libertarian ideas” section, you’re being self-deluding. Fortunately, most intelligent (and even many unintelligent) people know that you’re just parroting a line of BS with that nonsense.

    As Democracy has led to more and more socialist policies, we find ourselves to now be a debtor nation with huge financial problems and an ever-weakening market.

    Thanks for proving you’re not only a historical illiterate but you’re also an economic illiterate. But then you’re a libertarian. A major requirement for libertarianism is having a serious disconnect from reality.

  373. #375 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Tis Himself,

    The Federal government was weaker but state and local governments were stronger.

    This is a silly assertion. This was during a time in which there was a frontier to be conquered and homesteading to be done. The states did not spring up overnight, and the default position of a homestead society was anarchy.

    A country where only property-owning white adult males had the vote was not libertarian.

    It’s true that we’ve changed our perceptions about one another, but I contend that as we became a more educated society that this was inevitable. The fall of the American empire, due to revolution or economic collapse, will enable the next government to inhabit this land to be far more libertarian. Rejection of the cycle on the grounds that you deny that it exists is only to the detriment of your argument, not mine. If we continue on this path, America will surely fall victim to one or the other, as has every empire which has ever existed. I’d like to see how you’ll reject the historical record, though. It ought to be entertaining.

  374. #376 'Tis Himself
    February 1, 2009

    SC, OM #372

    I’m not going to argue anarchy with you. Among other things, I’m not familiar with modern anarchist theories. I’ve read Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid and Fields, Factories and Workshops and Proudhon’s Theory of Property, but when the latest book I’ve read on the subject is over 100 years old, then I can hardly claim to be au courant with anarchism.

    When discussing libertarianism with libertarians, using the term “anarcho-capitalist” is appropriate. The term itself may be wrong or misused, but it is the name of a particular flavor of libertarianism.

  375. #377 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Think about it, we conquered a continent and threw off a repressive monarchy during the enlightenment, and we actually structured our contry around secular/libertarian ideas! Our country then grew to be the most economically prosperous country in the world. As Democracy has led to more and more socialist policies, we find ourselves to now be a debtor nation with huge financial problems and an ever-weakening market. – Ward S. Denker

    What a breathtakingly ludicrous distortion of history! Of course the theft of half a continent (which I see you judge to be in complete conformity with libertarian ideas), and the slave labour of millions, were vital to the growth of US prosperity – as was continued economic integration with north-west Europe. After the Civil War, tariffs were imposed to protect the nascent industrialisation of the north (dispute between northern and southern elites about whether to do this was a principle cause of the war). The economic policies of the US were at their most “socialist” (of course, still very far from anything that could reasonably be called socialism) in the period 1945-63, a period of very rapid growth of prosperity. Since then top tax rates have plummeted, inequality has soared, unions have been weakened, and controls on finance capital imposed after the crash of 1929 have been progressively removed. How very socialist.

  376. #378 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: KnockGoats (#378)

    What a breathtakingly ludicrous distortion of history! Of course the theft of half a continent (which I see you judge to be in complete conformity with libertarian ideas), and the slave labour of millions, were vital to the growth of US prosperity – as was continued economic integration with north-west Europe. After the Civil War, tariffs were imposed to protect the nascent industrialisation of the north

    What a disingenuous, distorted, fuck-wit response. Your parents surely dropped you on your head.

    I’m talking about the expansion into the West, you know, all of those states which did not benefit from slave labor? Yes, Americans dispossessed the natives violently. Yes, it was abhorrent. This has not one tiny bit of bearing in the conversation.

    You can fuck yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous fuck. Try telling the truth, asshole, it will do more for your “cause.”

  377. #379 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    When discussing libertarianism with libertarians, using the term “anarcho-capitalist” is appropriate. The term itself may be wrong or misused, but it is the name of a particular flavor of libertarianism.

    It’s the name some have claimed, or are attempting to claim, and I’m going to keep making the point that it is not only impossible (as Walton acknowledges, utopian libertarian schemes still include a state) but completely illegitimate for them to use given the history of anarchism. They’re not anarcho- anaything. I’ve linked to this a few times lately, but:

    http://www.struggle.ws/anarchism/writers/anarcho/anarchism/libcap/refuteAC.html

    I’m not going to argue anarchy with you….

    And I have no interest in arguing it with you. No need to be so abrupt.

    :S

    That particular myth has had a negative impact on working-class histories, which in the twentieth century tended to be written by Marxists, who ignored the evidence in favor of repeating that anarchism was a movement exclusively of a fading artisanal class, backward peasants, ignorant dreamers, “primitive rebels,” etc., so it sticks in my craw.

  378. #380 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Posted by: Ward S. Denker | February 1, 2009 7:49 PM

    Yup. Just let ‘em keep spewing.

  379. #381 'Tis Himself
    February 1, 2009

    This [state and local governments were strong] is a silly assertion. This was during a time in which there was a frontier to be conquered and homesteading to be done. The states did not spring up overnight, and the default position of a homestead society was anarchy.

    Why do I even bother to argue with historical illiterates? I must be masochistic to try to teach libertarians history. My SIWOTI-fu must be overwhelming. I should realize that historical revisionism and ignorance is a necessary byproduct of libertarianism.

    Sure, we all know how Dan’l Boone moved from Kentucky to Tennessee “’cause it were gettin’ too crowded in Kentucky.” But most people didn’t live on the frontier. In 1770, Philadelphia was not only the largest city in the colonies, it was the second largest city in the British Empire after London. New York was the third largest city in the Empire and Boston was sixth (York and Edinburgh were 4th and 5th respectively). People were living in and around cities rather than on the frontier even before the revolution. These areas had governments.

    When people did move to the frontier, one of the first things they did was establish various governments. Charleston, South Carolina was settled in 1670. In 1680 it was designated the capital of the colony. The first settlement in Ohio was Marietta, settled in 1788. The Ohio Territorial Government was established by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Government came to Ohio before settlers.

  380. #382 'Tis Himself
    February 1, 2009

    You can fuck yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous fuck. Try telling the truth, asshole, it will do more for your “cause.”

    I was right when I decided I should just killfile libertarians when they became recognizable.

    So long, Ward. Don’t bother to reply to me any more, because I won’t be reading your nonsense.

  381. #383 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Tis Himself (#382)

    When people did move to the frontier, one of the first things they did was establish various governments.

    And they looked exactly like they do today, behemoths of legislation with a socialistic bent? Really? I contend that they had fewer laws with a bent toward developing the land and the economy.

    Why do I even bother to argue with historical illiterates?

    We were having an actual conversation, a good one, with not one invective or insult until you and Goat showed up. You can use his razor-bladed stick (if he’ll share it, he’s keen on that) and die from anal bleeding in his ditch (if he’ll socialize it enough to share it with you) if you’re going to make sweeping generalizations about Libertarians.

  382. #384 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Tis Himself (#382)(#384)

    I was right when I decided I should just killfile libertarians when they became recognizable.

    Do it already, asshole! We (Libertarians) actually stand to gain by not having to sift through your drivel to find a conversation with a real intellectual, as opposed to a puffed-up, lying, disingenuous pseudo-intellectual such as yourself.

  383. #385 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats,

    “As with capitalism, you don’t even know what racism is; it is telling that you only ever complain about alleged anti-European racism”

    Your experience is pretty limited. The anti-European racism you and others express is the main racism I encounter at this site. Any other racism is jumped on pretty quickly here, it is only the anti-European racism that is given a pass.

  384. #386 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    I’m talking about the expansion into the West, you know, all of those states which did not benefit from slave labor?

    Where do you think the capital to develop the west came from? Who paid for the armies to dispossess the natives? The railways? The agricultural machinery? Who bought the agricultural produce and the minerals? Stone me, but you “libertarians” are so ignorant. You really have bought into the whole frontier myth as well as the American Revolution myth, haven’t you? The whole of the USA was always part of the global capitalist system, centred in the 18th, 19th and the early 20th century around the north Atlantic.

    You can fuck yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous fuck.

    I addressed your arguments, admittedly dismissing them as the ignorant, ludicrous nonsense they are, and you responded with personal abuse. And you’re not even any good at that.

  385. #387 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Think about it, we conquered a continent…
    Ward S. Denker@371

    Yes, Americans dispossessed the natives violently. Yes, it was abhorrent. This has not one tiny bit of bearing in the conversation.
    Ward S. Denker@379

    So the thing you were boasting about@371 has no bearing on the conversation?

  386. #388 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    You didn’t deserve that Knockgoats.

  387. #389 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Africangenesis@386,

    You simply confirm that you haven’t the faintest understanding of what racism is; and that you imagine anti-European prejudice (from Europeans of course – self-hating Europeans, I suppose) at every turn. It’s clearly not a real problem to you, the accusation is just a rhetorical weapon.

  388. #390 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: KnockGoats (#387)

    Wagon trains had whole armies with them? America didn’t even have a standing army after our revolution, we had militias. As for “paying” for the trip, individuals went as far as they could on what little they had (and many times that wasn’t very much). They settled wherever the land was relatively open and not already occupied, subjecting themselves to great risk from natives (or finding peaceful ways to coexist with them). You must remember that the natives did initially welcome their would-be conquerors, by and large, and they possessed firearms to back themselves up when that arrangement changed. As more individuals homesteaded on the land, those who followed them could get further by trading with those who had come before (who had farmed the land and raised livestock and produced goods for trade with settlers).

    I addressed your arguments, admittedly dismissing them as the ignorant, ludicrous nonsense they are, and you responded with personal abuse.

    You said “Of course the theft of half a continent (which I see you judge to be in complete conformity with libertarian ideas), and the slave labour of millions[...]“. How am I not to take that to be a personal insult? You drew a box around me, labeled me as a supporter of the slaughter of innocents and slavery, and I responded in kind. If you want to have a civil conversation on the merits of your own point of view, do it, and don’t say stupid shit like this or I’ll rip you a new asshole.

  389. #391 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Patricia, OM,

    Thanks for your concern, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest! Such an insult from someone worthy of respect would be different.

    Right, time for bed! Good night to all except creobots and libertardians!

  390. #392 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Right, time for bed! Good night to all except creobots and libertardians!

    That’s right, exclude all those who zombies would avoid due to lack of brains…

  391. #393 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Denker,
    You were boasting about conquering a continent@371, with no sign whatever of disapproval. I simply took you at your word. I did not impute approval of slavery to you – note the placement of my comment about what you judge to be in accordance with “libertarian” ideas.

    or I’ll rip you a new asshole. – Ward S. Denker

    You pathetic little turd.

    If you want to have a civil conversation on the merits of your own point of view – Ward S. Denker

    You’re too ignorant and ideologically blinkered to be worth the attempt, shit-for-brains.

  392. #394 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: KnockGoats (#392)

    Right, time for bed! Good night to all except creobots and libertardians!

    Have fun running, and try not to let the door hit you where evolution split you.

    Re: Patricia, OM (#389)

    You didn’t deserve that Knockgoats.

    How do you think I should take “Of course the theft of half a continent (which I see you judge to be in complete conformity with libertarian ideas), and the slave labour of millions[...]“?

    That was an insult and deserved one in kind.

  393. #395 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Goodnight, KG!

    (Wow – Wa…nker’s a disturbing little creepster when that mask of civility comes off, no?)

  394. #396 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Somebody making some noise? Nah, just a libertardian going at it. Time to move along. Nothing to see here.

  395. #397 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: KnockGoats (#394)

    You were boasting about conquering a continent

    I did no such thing, you sick fuck. For that, may you endure the anal rape of a thousand gorillas and a subsequent bath in pure isopropyl alcohol.

  396. #398 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    I did no such thing, you sick fuck. For that, may you endure the anal rape of a thousand gorillas and a subsequent bath in pure isopropyl alcohol.

    Ward, you are quite the bully boy. Time for you to go home. And stay there. The adults want to post here, which leaves you out with that attitude. Unless you are wiling to apologize, go terrorize another blog.

  397. #399 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Gorillas have the smallest penes of all apes… yes, in absolute terms.

    For instance, we’re not going to achieve fully privatised education in the UK any time soon; but there’s a good chance that a future Tory government will bring in school vouchers – a major step in the right direction -

    Can I trust my eyes!?!

    Well, probably not, because it’s 3 at night here. Good night.

  398. #400 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: SC, OM (#396)

    Wow – Wa…nker’s a disturbing little creepster when that mask of civility comes off, no?

    When a gauntlet is thrown one should expect a deserved foil through the heart. As for “disturbing,” certainly. I chose to employ striking imagery as a weapon when faced with intentional distortion of my words and meaning. It’s effective, as you, no doubt, must scrub your brain of the image of said gorillas from 398.

    The reality is, my civility isn’t my mask, it’s my nature. My incivility is my mask, worn to frighten those who would oppress my opinions. I must confess a perverse enjoyment when wearing it, however. The reactions are hilarious.

  399. #401 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Gorillas have the smallest penes of all apes… yes, in absolute terms.

    Well, in Denker’s defense, he has only his own to compare them to.

    I must confess a perverse enjoyment when wearing it, however.

    I’m quite sure.

  400. #402 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    That was a witless insult and irrationally cruel. PZ has warned us not to commit such stupidity on his blog. You would do well to apologize Ward. Or go home.

  401. #403 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: SC, OM (#402)

    Well, in Denker’s defense, he has only his own to compare them to.

    You concluded that from my text? Wow, what an enlightened position. Penis size is so important to evolutionary biology.

    I think you’re only projecting because your mother’s is bigger.

  402. #404 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Patricia, OM (#403)

    I’d be honored to, so long as he apologizes first for his mischaracterization of my position and the lie. And I even promise not to attack him again, so long as he promises the same.

  403. #405 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    SC, OM – My goodness what an interesting mother Ward thinks you have.

  404. #406 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    You concluded that from my text? Wow, what an enlightened position. Penis size is so important to evolutionary biology.

    I think you’re only projecting because your mother’s is bigger.

    Lame. (As expected from a blithertarian.)

  405. #407 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Denker can’t distinguish among an accurate characterization of his statement, an insult, and an elaborate rape fantasy. That’s a scary person. He is also delusional enough to believe KG’s running away from him. Sad, and more than a little creepy.

  406. #408 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Sorry Ward. I cannot broker that for you. PZ holds each of us personally accountable for our foul mouths and brutish behavior.

  407. #409 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Hold me back SC, I’m just itching to invite him to call me something vile, so I can catch up to Janine.

    Must. Not. Cheat.

  408. #410 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Well, if his attempt at insulting me is any indication, I don’t know if he’ll be of much use. He’s just too lame. (I’m still puzzled by the remark about my mother. Is that some dreadful insult to men or something? I was just like “WTF?”)

  409. #411 Wowbagger
    February 1, 2009

    That reminds me – what happened to Pete Rooke? He was pretty much a regular at the end of last year.

    Hold me back SC, I’m just itching to invite him to call me something vile, so I can catch up to Janine.

    This could be fun to watch. Where’s the popcorn?

  410. #412 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 1, 2009

    I’m talking about the expansion into the West, you know, all of those states which did not benefit from slave labor?

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! What do you think Bleeding Kansas was about. One of the main reasons for the American Civil War was that the southern slave states wanted the western colonies to be admitted into the union as slave states. The reason being this, the balance of power in the House and Senate would swing to the slave holders?

    Why do you think that the southern states seceded after Lincoln became President. He was not going to end slavery but, instead, contain it to where it was already legal. This was going to swing the balance of power to the north. Slave holders had a lot invested in the west.

    Damn it, know your fucking history. Also, fuck yourself with a razor sharp dildo.

  411. #413 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Wowbagger – I’m deep in the sin of envy. Janine got the moniker Vile Bitch and I’ve been jealous.
    Sorry I don’t have any popcorn, just double pepperoni pizza, beer, and sangria. (We’re cheering for the Cardinals in memory of Pat Tillman)

  412. #414 SC, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Patricia,

    I’m happy to offer you Humorless Twat, Trashy Piece of Work, and True Internet Pussy. But you probably want your own names…

    Does anyone know if Rooke kept up his blog?

  413. #415 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 1, 2009

    Patricia, when colorful insults are tossed at the denizens of this blog, people point it out to me, expecting me to adopt it. Kind of like being known as the kid who was willing to touch all the ickie things the kids find. But if you want, I will let you adopt the next colorful insult. It is the least I can do for a charming slut like you.

  414. #416 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    It’s technique.
    At first I thought she was trouncing me with youthful redheaded exuberance. Now I see, it’s all banshee fly in delivery.
    *heads for the broom closet*

  415. #417 Wowbagger
    February 1, 2009

    Sorry I don’t have any popcorn, just double pepperoni pizza, beer, and sangria. (We’re cheering for the Cardinals in memory of Pat Tillman)

    That all sounds good to me, esp. the pizza – we’re in the middle of a heatwave (6 straight days with a maximum over 110°F) at the moment and cooking just isn’t an option. I’ve had one cooked meal – BBQ – in the last week; I’ve either eaten cold meat & salad or a couple of bowls of cereal.

    Yeah, I’m going for the Cardinals as well – the punter, Ben Graham, is an Australian.

  416. #418 Patricia, Charming Slut, OM
    February 1, 2009

    I’m willing to accept that. Thank you!
    But I’m still working towards Vile. The closest I ever came to that was ‘vituperous sow’ at a water district meeting.

  417. #419 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 1, 2009

    Well! Now we need to name SC!

  418. #420 clinteas
    February 1, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    28 and humid here,at least a little bit cooler now…..

    Whats the Cardinals?
    And I am mystified as to some of Denker’s comments above….

  419. #421 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    And I am mystified as to some of Denker’s comments above… He’s a bad tempered bully of a libertardian. By now you know any relationship between what they say and reality is purely coincidental.

  420. #422 Patricia, Charming Slut, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Wowbagger – Here in Oregon we’ve been seeing the horrible fires on the news in your neck of the woods.
    In July, August and September we get 100 degree weather here. It sucks! Right now it’s cold, and so dark we have the chickens lit up, or no eggs. You might be interested to know that our Australian chickens don’t seem bothered at all by the snow.

  421. #423 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    Tis’Himself#370,

    How can a left anarchist have any ground to call libertarianism utopian? Yes, libertarianism is grounded in principles, but has the advantage of NOT requiring utopian completeness like left anarchism. Libertarian principles can be approached gradually, and pragmatically. After all, libertarianism is about limited government, and an appreciable plurality are constitutionalists, satisfied with the ideals if not the implementation and practice of the founding fathers.

    SC, I don’t doubt that some anarcho-capitalists may be trying to coopt your left anarchist heritage, but most I met want nothing to do with that history. Anarcho-capitalism is closer to the natural justice that humans expect, that is having property rights in the produce of their own labor. It is just a matter of having greater respect for your fellow human beings.

    KnockGoats,

    You accuse me of not understanding capitalism, yet you say it is been around for 500 years. You obviously are conflating it with mercantilism, and even after that you would be discussed the practices and history of mixed economies that to a greater or lesser extent adhered to the ideal of emphasizing the creation of wealth through the deferal of consumption and investment in research and increases in future productivity.

  422. #424 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Patricia, OM(#410)

    Hold me back SC, I’m just itching to invite him to call me something vile, so I can catch up to Janine.

    We’re playing at a rather silly game here. I don’t take well to being called a supporter of slavery and the murder of an entire continent of people. When I’m insulted, I don’t always play by the rules of engagement. Bring a knife to a gunfight and I’ll shoot. Bring a gun, and I might go for a tactical nuke.

    This is kind of like that movie Wargames (the one with a young Matthew Broderick) where he teaches a computer that playing the game (war) is pointless and just ends in complete annihilation on both sides (a Pyrrhic victory). I just don’t want to take as long playing silly games of tic-tac-toe. The end annihilation games are more fun for others to watch and the same point is made.

    Must. Not. Cheat.

    You and I are playing by the same rules. You said something crude, I responded snarkily. Your response was still at crude (but funny), so I stood down and disarmed the nukes. I don’t need to enter the launch codes every time, after all. ;)

    I like you, and I can see why PZ does. Whilst not getting involved in the actual arguments, you snipe with jest, and you respond well to humor in return.

  423. #425 Africangenesis
    February 1, 2009

    KnockGoats@390,

    You are confusing racism with hatred, and thus assuming a European expressing racism against Europeans would have to “self-hating”. You are painting all Europeans as guilty of benefiting from empire, colonialism and exploitation, and meriting none of their wealth no matter how created or acquired, not out of hatred, but for some other agenda, presumably in the interest of furthering your extreme democracy focused on redistributing wealth. However, misguided and unfair your racism is, it doesn’t have to be hatred, just demonizing a whole race for your purpose.

  424. #426 Wowbagger
    February 1, 2009

    Clinteas,

    The Cardinals are an American Football team from Arizona playing in the Superbowl. Ben Graham, their punter, played Aussie Rules for Geelong (he was captain for a while) before heading over their to try his luck in the NFL.

    Patricia – the fires are more in clinteas’ neck of the woods (Victoria) than they are mine (South Australia) – but we’ve still had issue – blackouts, train derailments (the tracks buckle in the heat) and a few dozen deaths of sick and/or elderly people.

    It’s good to know we produce tough chickens. It almost makes up for having vomited up Ken Ham…

  425. #427 clinteas
    February 1, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    Friday was the worst,was running round the Department with water sprayers and iv pumps all evening,most people that came in had core body temperatures of over 40C….Oh,and of course the power was out,puters dead,the whole shebang LOL
    And you can almost see the fires from my Hospital.

    Denker,

    bit too late to play nice now,dont you think.Rather revealing litle period upthread,when the veil came off….Im afraid I know all I ever want to know about you after reading that.

  426. #428 Wowbagger
    February 1, 2009

    clinteas,

    Damn, that’s harsh. It hasn’t really affected me beyond the personal discomfort and having to sleep in my lounge room where the air-con is.

  427. #429 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Janine, of the Shifting Titles (#416)

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! What do you think Bleeding Kansas was about.[...]

    I concede that this is a fine point, but it is also an example of why I’m not an anarchist. Bad ideas can continue to spread when there’s no enforcement to eradicate them.

    I’m really talking about the time immediately following the writing of the Constitution. Taken at face value, the tiny group of rebels had written the founding document of a libertarian government. It went downhill fast from there (to a modern Libertarian), as more and more clamored for bigger and bigger government to solve their problems. No matter how well it was written, it’s been pretty much ignored at an increasing rate since the founding.

    There was also a lot of peaceful settlement during the Western expansion. By and large, most people are good. At the same time, one must remember the reasons that the expansion into America took place to begin with. People came here for opportunity and to escape oppression. Considering what many were running from one can imagine they’d have fewer qualms taking land from peaceful people, especially a group of people they viewed as subhuman. This isn’t an excuse for their behavior (so, the rest of you refrain from quoting me out of context).

    Sacagawea’s experience with European settlers was positive (peaceful explorers). If only she’d known who else she was inviting into her home.

    Didn’t you have me in a killfile? I got into a scrap and you sat down to watch the carnage unfold, didn’t you?

  428. #430 Ward S. Denker
    February 1, 2009

    Re: Clinteas(#428)

    bit too late to play nice now,dont you think.Rather revealing litle period upthread,when the veil came off….Im afraid I know all I ever want to know about you after reading that.

    I invite you to take some time to go back and read what it is that precipitated it. I have not attacked someone who didn’t attack me first. No matter how you slice it, telling someone (in so many words) you think they support slavery and genocide is deserving of a vehement response.

  429. #431 Patricia, Charming Slut, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Crude?

    Sir, I must protest.

    Wanton, suggestive, and brazen, but hardly ever crude. If you continue in this line of abuse I shall ban you from the spanking couch.

  430. #432 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Patricia, Charming Slut, OM(#432)

    Wait, there’s a spanking couch? What does one have to do to get that punishment?

  431. #433 Patricia, Charming Slut, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Wowbagger – The Aussie chickens are such lovely girls, so black and glossy that they mirror emerald green in their feathers. Wing deep in snow they continue to lay eggs everyday.

    Hovind is playing on TV here in Oregon on my channel 14. I didn’t know we had a fool channel – my husband tuned it in and we laughed until it hurt. Hovind was touting gawd’s day of rest is 1000 years.

  432. #434 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Patricia, Charming Slut, OM (#434)

    Hovind was touting gawd’s day of rest is 1000 years.

    No wonder he was cranky throughout the Old Testament, man had yet to invent alcohol and he went through a thousand years of rest without so much as a beer.

    Nowadays people justify having one after mowing the lawn. That fella had to invent an entire universe first.

  433. #435 Wowbagger
    February 2, 2009

    Hovind was touting gawd’s day of rest is 1000 years.

    Never mind the inconsistency of an omnipotent being that needed to ‘rest’ in the first place. We get the ‘global edition’ of The Daily Show and last night’s had Jon Stewart praising Obama for having worked on his seventh day – unlike a certain deity he could name.

    He then proceeded to be even more uncomplimentary about said imaginary being. It was great…

  434. #436 Patricia, Charming Slut, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Pffft!
    What, you thought PZ didn’t run a proper ship? Of course we have a spanking couch.

    We have Naked Bunnies with Whips, Vile Bitches, and two sluts with OM’s – that doesn’t put you passed the wannabe a naughty boy row. But keep trying, naughtiness counts here.

  435. #437 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    You are painting all Europeans as guilty of benefiting from empire, colonialism and exploitation, and meriting none of their wealth no matter how created or acquired – Africangenesis

    I have, of course, never done any such thing. Are you really incapable of distinguishing between attributing guilt – which clearly belongs only to those who have intentionally or negligently caused a wrong, and attributing responsibility to mitigate the consequences of that wrong, which can apply, at the least, to anyone who has benefited from it?

  436. #438 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    I invite you to take some time to go back and read what it is that precipitated it. I have not attacked someone who didn’t attack me first.

    What “precipitated” it, Denker, was an entirely reasonable response to your boasting about how “we” “conquered a continent.” I had exactly the same response, as I would have to the same sort of statement being made about British colonialism in Africa. There was no attack, and even if you perceived it as such your response was well out of proportion, not to mention creepy. And this was from someone whose first (I believe) comment here was this

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/testing_testing_testingis_this.php#comment-1307501

    which Denker followed with several idiotic, scolding posts about the lack of civility here (and avoiding the substantive responses to his stupid ideas about vaccination policy). Denker’s shown himself to be a liar, for instance in that he claimed that he avoids mentioning his blog which I’ve seen him do on at least three occasions. He’s also a complete ignoramus.

    I don’t take well to being called a supporter of slavery and the murder of an entire continent of people.

    Then stop writing like one, dillweed.

    Africangenesis:

    How can a left anarchist have any ground to call libertarianism utopian?

    To whom are you speaking? ‘Tis Himself isn’t an anarchist.

    Yes, libertarianism is grounded in principles, but has the advantage of NOT requiring utopian completeness like left anarchism.

    Bullshit, on every count.

    SC, I don’t doubt that some anarcho-capitalists may be trying to coopt your left anarchist heritage,

    Stop it with the “left anarchist” nonsense. Anarchism is a movement of the left.

    but most I met want nothing to do with that history.

    Then they should stop using the fraudulent “anarcho-capitalist.” You can do your part on their behalf by not repeating it and ceasing to use “left anarchist” when talking about anarchists.

    Anarcho-capitalism is closer to the natural justice that humans expect, that is having property rights in the produce of their own labor.

    Yeah, ’cause other social animals and hunter-gatherers are huge on personal and corporate property rights. And propertatiranism really promotes this for workers.

    It is just a matter of having greater respect for your fellow human beings.

    See, this is why I had stopped responding to this joker for a while. It’s so often hard to tell if he’s serious.

  437. #439 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    SC,

    I’m not going to get into another argument, since you find it so tiresome, and I have nothing to say that others haven’t said more eloquently.

    I do, however, wish to ask an honest question.

    Does your opposition to private property extend only to natural resources, like land and water, or does it also extend to something a person creates through his own labour? I can understand the argument (though I disagree with it) that private ownership of land and other resources is not required by natural justice, since no one “creates” these things.

    But let’s say X takes some wood worth £1, and, through his skill and labour, makes it into a chair worth £5. While I understand that on your view the £1-worth of wood is the property of the community, not of a private individual, what about the £4 that X has, through his own effort, added to the value of the chair? Is that £4 not rightfully his property, and is he not morally entitled to exclude others from it?

    I’m just asking. I disagree with you about the illegitimacy of property rights in land and natural resources, but I can see your point. But I want to know where you stand on human-created resources, produced by the labour of an individual.

  438. #440 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    You accuse me of not understanding capitalism, yet you say it is been around for 500 years. You obviously are conflating it with mercantilism – Africangenesis

    You have a point there: in the conventional understanding, capitalism did not get going until considerably later. My understanding of it is based in world-system theory. This was originally developed by Wallerstein on the basis of earlier work by Braudel and others; although I much prefer Chase-Dunn, whose writing is not disfigured by Marxist jargon as Wallerstein’s is. In brief, the theory characterises capitalism as a system where production for profit is the primary mode of accumulation; and where corporations and the states-system are both key features.
    The bases for this system were indeed laid around 500 years ago, with the development of extensive capitalist-mode agriculture in western Europe, and the beginnings of European imperialism – the two coinciding in the slave-worked sugar plantations of the Atlantic islands and then the Caribbean. The 17th century Dutch Republic was the first semi-capitalist state, with the explosive growth of industrial production (shipbuilding, sugar-refining, agriculture) as well as trade, the first multinational (the EOC), the first boom-bust phenomenon (tulips), and a ruling elite based on money derived from trade and production for profit rather than land. You can call this early stage “mercantilism” if you want, but it developed seamlessly into full-blown capitalism – which still retained, as indeed it does today, elements of accumulation by outright theft and fraud as well as production for profit. Your idea of “capitalism” as a complete “free market” has never existed and could never exist.

  439. #441 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    Denker,
    In addition to all your other faults, you’re a brazen liar. you said, @371:
    Think about it, we conquered a continent and threw off a repressive monarchy during the enlightenment, and we actually structured our contry around secular/libertarian ideas!

    Since you boast of the two in the same tone and the same sentence, it is an obvious inference that you considered this conquest of a continent to be in accordance with libertarian ideas.

    I responded@378:
    Of course the theft of half a continent (which I see you judge to be in complete conformity with libertarian ideas), and the slave labour of millions, were vital to the growth of US prosperity – as was continued economic integration with north-west Europe.

    As the placing of my parenthesis makes clear, I did not attribute to you approval of slavery; I was simply pointing out that slavery was an important contributor to US economic development, as part of showing that the myth of the noble frontiersman [sic] taming the wilderness and thus building the great US-of-A by his [sic again] own unaided efforts is a load of crap. That you choose to respond with weird and unpleasant fantasies of a kind which I would guess are characteristic of psychopathic sexual sadists bothers me not a jot (although it might unnerve those who live anywhere near you) – but thanks to those who have called you on this.

  440. #442 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Does your opposition to private property extend only to natural resources, like land and water, or does it also extend to something a person creates through his own labour?

    I see we’re back to “his” again.

    I can understand the argument (though I disagree with it) that private ownership of land and other resources is not required by natural justice, since no one “creates” these things.

    Nice try. Not only is it not required by natural justice; it is contrary to it. As I pointed to above, not only do other social species not have such relationships, but the sort of human societies that characterized the vast majority of human history did not recognize private property in the sense you understand it (as I recall, the !Kung had a notion of watering-hole “rights,” but this and similar didn’t resemble your conception of private property). And the corporation, the very recent creation of governments, cannot be argued to possess natural rights of any sort. Further, activities such as gathering, hunting, cooking, building, etc., were also performed in common (this is not to say there were never status inequalities, of course).

    You might want to read a little about what’s been happening in countries like Bolivia, where people have increasingly been fighting back against attempts to privatize (steal) and exploit their natural resources for profit. They know what natural justice is, Walton, and it’s not capitalist imperialism.

    But let’s say X takes some wood worth £1, and, through his skill and labour, makes it into a chair worth £5.

    No, let’s not, Walton. First, you’ve already conceded that your hypothetical dude is making use of a shared – and threatened – natural resource to which in my view he has no private moral right (not to mention the fact that the technology and tools he’s using are the products of centuries of invention and labor). But leaving this completely aside, the reason I generally avoid discussions with you is that, as I explained very plainly on the earlier thread, you speak in abstractions that have little or no correspondence to the real world. How about you do some research into the history of your country’s furniture industry, focusing on workers and taking a global view? You have access to wonderful libraries. Then perhaps you can explain how a young girl making furniture in, say, the Philippines or Mexico or Honduras, to be sold in stores where you live, making about $3 per 12-hour day, is enjoying the fruits of her labor.

    [By the way, I'd like to see a citation for your claim that media consolidation is not a fact, and your broader claim about the non-concentration of corporate power. Were you simply arguing that the number of corporate entities has not decreased - which, I admit, would counter my poorly-worded suggestion that corporations were ever fewer? Or were you trying to counter the spirit of what I was saying, arguing that the domination of a relatively small number of very rich corporations (under 2500 in the US own 3/4 of all corporate assets) is not the case or is being reversed?]

  441. #443 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    I see we’re back to “his” again.

    My apologies. I forgot that the ordinary conventions of the English language were so offensive to your delicate sensibilities.

    In all honesty, I’m so used to using “his” to mean “his or hers” that I simply don’t notice. It wasn’t an intentional choice to piss you off.

    But leaving this completely aside, the reason I generally avoid discussions with you is that, as I explained very plainly on the earlier thread, you speak in abstractions that have little or no correspondence to the real world.

    That’s because it was an example to illustrate a point. We’re not discussing the mechanics of furniture manufacture, a subject about which I know nothing and care less.

    But, OK, if it makes you happy… X buys some flour, yeast and water from Y for $1, hires an oven from Z for another $1, and makes a loaf of bread worth $4. (I’m fairly sure that’s an accurate enough presentation of the process of baking. If it isn’t, feel free to correct me.) She has thereby added $2 of value, through her own labour and effort, to the loaf. Does that $2 not, morally speaking, belong to her? You’ve skilfully evaded answering this question, despite the fact that you know damn well what I was asking.

    Then perhaps you can explain how a young girl making furniture in, say, the Philippines or Mexico or Honduras, to be sold in stores where you live, making about $3 per 12-hour day, is enjoying the fruits of her labor.

    This is really quite spectacular in its irrelevance. Unlike X in my example, your young girl is not self-employed; she is employed by another person under a contract. She has sold her labour in exchange for a fixed wage. That wage, therefore, belongs to her and constitutes, for our purposes, the fruits of her labour. Indeed, I’ll throw the question right back at you: is that girl not, morally speaking, the owner of her $3 a day, and of everything she chooses to buy with it?

    As an aside, the fact that she is willing to work for such a low wage indicates that the alternatives are likely to be even worse. Thus, if the sweatshop where she works were to close – due to, say, well-meaning left-wing Westerners organising a boycott of its products – she would be left with the, erm, next best alternative, which would probably be either (a) street prostitution or (b) starving to death. So I have no guilt whatsoever about buying sweatshop-made products; it is, indeed, the best way to help sweatshop workers.

  442. #444 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    You might want to read a little about what’s been happening in countries like Bolivia, where people have increasingly been fighting back against attempts to privatize (steal) and exploit their natural resources for profit.

    What’s been happening in Bolivia is that the deranged left-wing demagogue Evo Morales has risen to power on a wave of populism, and started expropriating (stealing) foreign-owned property for the benefit of the State – which will inevitably lead to the disappearance of foreign investment, and, in the long run, to the collapse of the Bolivian economy and the destitution of its people.

  443. #445 Steve_C
    February 2, 2009

    The same thing will happen to Chavez in Venezuela. Might take longer because they do have oil to prop him up.

  444. #446 Endor
    February 2, 2009

    “I forgot that the ordinary conventions of the English language were so offensive to your delicate sensibilities.”
    “In all honesty, I’m so used to using “his” to mean “his or hers” that I simply don’t notice.”

    Or, in other words, Walton’s so full of male privilege he can’t be bothered to notice or care about being a sexist douche. That explains the whole Force Birth Agenda compliance.

  445. #447 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Knockgoats(#442)

    In addition to all your other faults, you’re a brazen liar. you said, [...] Since you boast of the two in the same tone and the same sentence, it is an obvious inference that you considered this conquest of a continent to be in accordance with libertarian ideas. [...] I responded [...] As the placing of my parenthesis makes clear, I did not attribute to you approval of slavery; I was simply pointing out that slavery was an important contributor to US economic development, as part of showing that the myth of the noble frontiersman [sic] taming the wilderness and thus building the great US-of-A by his [sic again] own unaided efforts is a load of crap. That you choose to respond with weird and unpleasant fantasies of a kind which I would guess are characteristic of psychopathic sexual sadists bothers me not a jot (although it might unnerve those who live anywhere near you) – but thanks to those who have called you on this.

    That reads:

    I boast of sucking off goats, and I like it!

    I took the liberty of adding punctuation, since you’re not good at working it into your hidden meanings.

    If you’re willing to retract your intentional misreading of what I said, I’ll retract my intentional misreading of what you said…

  446. #448 Matt Heath
    February 2, 2009

    As an aside, the fact that she is willing to work for such a low wage indicates that the alternatives are likely to be even worse.

    Of course Walton, that must be right, because the owner of a sweatshop would never think

  447. #449 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    My apologies. I forgot that the ordinary conventions of the English language were so offensive to your delicate sensibilities.

    In all honesty, I’m so used to using “his” to mean “his or hers” that I simply don’t notice. It wasn’t an intentional choice to piss you off.

    That is the point. It’s only an accepted and unquestioned convention among those, like you, who are incapable of recognizing their own privilege. It has nothing to do with “delicate sensbilities,” you twit (you’re the one with delicate sensibilities). It’s about language that discounts and marginalizes more than half the population. PZ and KnockGoats are English speakers. Read their posts and see if you find the same constant unthinking acceptance of gendered language there.

    That’s because it was an example to illustrate a point.

    No, an illustration should be real.

    We’re not discussing the mechanics of furniture manufacture, a subject about which I know nothing and care less.

    We were – or should have been – discussing the social and political relations of production in the real world, something you’re neither inclined to do nor capable of doing. Exhibit Z-107:

    But, OK, if it makes you happy…You’ve skilfully evaded answering this question, despite the fact that you know damn well what I was asking.

    I haven’t avoided anything. I’ve answered no, and explained why.

    This is really quite spectacular in its irrelevance.

    Right, the existing relations of furniture production in corporate capitalism are irrelevant to the question. I suppose anything concrete is irrelevant when your entire viewpoint is a religious one based entirely on abstractions.

    Unlike X in my example, your young girl is not self-employed; she is employed by another person under a contract. She has sold her labour in exchange for a fixed wage. That wage, therefore, belongs to her and constitutes, for our purposes, the fruits of her labour.

    I think I’ve underestimated your intelligence. I guess her purposes (say, food, health, freedom) are as irrelevant as the socio-historical context of said “contract.”

    Indeed, I’ll throw the question right back at you: is that girl not, morally speaking, the owner of her $3 a day, and of everything she chooses to buy with it?

    Wow. Just wow. Everything she chooses to buy with it? Appalling. She is, morally speaking, entitled to far more, both materially and in terms of rights to democratic participation.

    As an aside, the fact that she is willing to work for such a low wage indicates that the alternatives are likely to be even worse. Thus, if the sweatshop where she works were to close – due to, say, well-meaning left-wing Westerners organising a boycott of its products – she would be left with the, erm, next best alternative, which would probably be either (a) street prostitution or (b) starving to death.

    And of course these are the only alternatives of which people like Walton can conceive. She and her coworkers could not reclaim the means of production, or reclaim the land and resources which have been stolen from them driving them to such desperation, to produce their own goods. Even their struggles for union rights or legislation to win better wages are to be dismissed in favor of corporations working with governments to keep workers desperate and controlled. Real freedom there, Walton.

    So I have no guilt whatsoever about buying sweatshop-made products; it is, indeed, the best way to help sweatshop workers.

    I’m done with you. You don’t intend to learn anything – as you’ve said, you’ll always hold the same views, and no engagement with reality will change them. You’re living in the fucking clouds of ideology. You dismiss science, history, and social science in favor of your abstract myths and rituals. Your desire to place your lofty, baseless theoretical speculations above the investigation of the real world and the consequences of your actions makes you, foolish boy, as dangerous as any Communist, or as your heroes who supported and guided Pinochet.

  448. #450 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Correction:

    I think I’ve overestimated your intelligence.

    What’s been happening in Bolivia is that the deranged left-wing demagogue Evo Morales has risen to power on a wave of populism, and started expropriating (stealing) foreign-owned property for the benefit of the State – which will inevitably lead to the disappearance of foreign investment, and, in the long run, to the collapse of the Bolivian economy and the destitution of its people.

    You’ve already shown your ability to parrot right-wing talking points about things of which you’re entirely ignorant and not interested in the least in learning more about. We really don’t need more illustrations.

  449. #451 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    “I boast of sucking off goats, and I like it!” – Ward S. Denker

    But do the goats enjoy it, Ward?

  450. #452 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    the destitution of its people

    Neoliberal-colonial relations in Bolivia have made it the second poorest country in the hemisphere, with staggering levels of inequality. Its people are fucking destitute. And they’re perfectly capable of making decisions about their own political and economic future, condescending allusions to “populism” and demagoguery notwithstanding. (This s the same rhetoric that has preceded every accomplished or attempted coup against democratically-elected leaders around the world, from Allende to Mossadeq, for which these bozos are apologists.) I’m curious as to what your knowledge of Bolivia is based on. Extensive reading in Bolivian history? Do you read or understand Spanish? Have you translated the new constitution, as I have?

    Anyway, doesn’t matter. The tide is turning in the world. As I said above, the frightening question that remains is how much violence the right will use to maintain their illegitimate privilege in the face of movements for justice.

  451. #453 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    SC, OM
    Come on – you know as well as I do that Bolivia has been a paradise for centuries under capitalism, with every individual loaded with more wealth than they know what to do with – particularly members of the indigenous majority. Their perversity in electing Morales and opposing the privatisation of Bolivia’s remaining natural resources is utterly inexplicable. Must be some sort of bizarre masochistic desire to suffer, I suppose.

  452. #454 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Isn’t having your own blog enough space for your bullshit Walton?

    You say you come here to learn, but all you do is preach nonsense.

  453. #455 Matt Heath
    February 2, 2009

    Someohow lost most of what I wrote up there. ahem.

    As an aside, the fact that she is willing to work for such a low wage indicates that the alternatives are likely to be even worse.

    Of course Walton, that must be right, because the owner of a sweatshop would never think of using intimidation to reduce a workers freedom to choose for herself the best course of action. A factory owner would never, say, threaten violence if an employee wished to quit and move to a better-paying competitor, or if, heaven forbid, she tried to organise a union.

    Employers don’t use threats; they are noble wealth-creators and employment-providers. Only the government uses intimidation.

    /libertardian Poe

  454. #456 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: SC, OM(#450)

    That is the point. It’s only an accepted and unquestioned convention among those, like you, who are incapable of recognizing their own privilege. It has nothing to do with “delicate sensbilities,” you twit (you’re the one with delicate sensibilities). It’s about language that discounts and marginalizes more than half the population. PZ and KnockGoats are English speakers. Read their posts and see if you find the same constant unthinking acceptance of gendered language there.

    Or, maybe, just maybe, sprinkling language with his/her everywhere is distracting and sullies an otherwise aesthetically pleasing language with pointless linguistic droppings. Using “one,” “one’s,” “one’s own” gets confusing and makes a sentence hard to follow, it breaks up the flow. Using “their” in conjunction with “one’s” is technically incorrect, and it makes the speaker sound like an uneducated lout for it. Substituting a feminine possessive form looks like one is intentionally picking on females when talking about negative things.

    So the fall-back position is… using plain English!

    And, it’s of supreme asshattitude to misconstrue meaning so as to say, “He/she is a hateful misogynist because he/she can’t recognize his/her heritage of being favored/oppressed over/by the opposite sex. He/she is only that way because he/she favors the convention of his/her language, taught to him/her at birth, instead of applying the new cultural outlook of his/her polite society into his/her language because he/she willfully disregards it in favor of his/her ability to be easily understood by his/her readers. He/she should know that misogynists spoke English, and he/she speaks English, therefore he/she, too, is a misogynist.”

    I don’t know about you, but that looks like it’s just a minefield of stupid.

  455. #457 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    And of course “well-meaning left-wing Westerners” could never boycott sweatshop-produced goods in favor of dealing with fair-trade operations, including worker-run cooperatives, or demonstrate solidarity with union or land-rights or antiprivatization struggles in these countries, or…

  456. #458 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Goat-knocker (#452)

    There’s a mis-attrubituon of quoted context, Goat-knocker. Your name gives you away. Also, come up with your own material. “I’m rubber, you’re glue” is such a kindergarten approach to comedy.

  457. #459 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    “mis-attrubituon” – the epic fail of typographical errors. *sigh*

  458. #460 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    Of course Walton, that must be right, because the owner of a sweatshop would never think of using intimidation to reduce a workers freedom to choose for herself the best course of action. A factory owner would never, say, threaten violence if an employee wished to quit and move to a better-paying competitor.

    If he or she does so (happy now?), he or she is acting outside the libertarian paradigm. We believe in free and voluntary contractual relations, unvitiated by force or fraud. You can’t point to something which violates libertarian principles and hold it up as an example of the failure of libertarian principles.

  459. #461 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    Has Denker@457 missed any of the excuses for using sexist language? Anyone?

  460. #462 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Denker, this has already been discussed at some length. This, however, caught my eye:

    Substituting a feminine possessive form looks like one is intentionally picking on females when talking about negative things.

    Is the suggestion that one would only substitute the feminine possessive [?] form when talking about negative things, or that it would only be noticed in this case, or what? Because I’ve read many a work in which the pronouns were mixed and never had this reaction.

    And, it’s of supreme asshattitude to misconstrue meaning so as to say, “He/she is a hateful misogynist because he/she can’t recognize his/her heritage of being favored/oppressed over/by the opposite sex. He/she is only that way because he/she favors the convention of his/her language, taught to him/her at birth, instead of applying the new cultural outlook of his/her polite society into his/her language because he/she willfully disregards it in favor of his/her ability to be easily understood by his/her readers. He/she should know that misogynists spoke English, and he/she speaks English, therefore he/she, too, is a misogynist.”

    How stupid. If you’re talking about a specific individual, you use the pronoun associated with his or her gender. Otherwise, you could, for example, simply make it plural (and remove the extraneous /s):

    “[People who write like this] are hateful misogynists because they can’t recognize their heritage of being favored over the opposite sex. They are only that way because they favor the convention of their language, taught to them at birth, instead of applying the new cultural outlook of their polite society into their language because they willfully disregard it in favor of their ability to be easily understood by their readers. They should know that misogynists spoke English, and they speak English, therefore they, too, are misogynists.”

    Perfectly clear, equally dumb.

    [By the way, many self-aware Spanish speakers have taken to ending -o/-os words -@/-@s, as in ell@s. I like that - it's cool looking.]

  461. #463 Bill Dauphin
    February 2, 2009

    I boast of sucking off goats, and I like it!

    Hey, isn’t that the title of Katy Perry’s next single?

  462. #464 Matt Heath
    February 2, 2009

    If he or she does so (happy now?), he or she is acting outside the libertarian paradigm. We believe in free and voluntary contractual relations, unvitiated by force or fraud. You can’t point to something which violates libertarian principles and hold it up as an example of the failure of libertarian principles.

    ahh right. I take that when you implement libertarian you will be ensuring that the world contains only consistently moral libertarians. Otherwise, I you’re just going to be lending gangster-thug capitalists an opportunity to create feudalism, and that seems like an odd move from self-described lovers of liberty.

    I wasn’t claiming that the sweatshop owner was a libertarian. In assuming that an employee has the freedom to enter into a employment without threats it seems as if you were assuming that (s)he was, but I certainly wasn’t. I’m all for reducing force and fraud but the idea that freeing capitalists from state regulation will do any such thing is simply ridiculous. Anywhere that employers can get away with using forced labour at least some of them do.

  463. #465 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    SC: I’m curious as to what your knowledge of Bolivia is based on. Extensive reading in Bolivian history? Do you read or understand Spanish?

    Un poco – I studied Spanish in school and have spent a fair amount of time in Spain – but no, I have never been to Bolivia and have read little about its history.

    However, there are many, many people who know far more than me about Bolivian history and who would, nevertheless, vehemently disagree with you. When I attended a conference at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, VA this summer, I met a couple of Bolivian political activists who bemoaned the destruction of freedom and ruination of the economy under Morales.

    Admittedly, my throwaway statement about Bolivia was deliberately partisan – I was, in part, intending to satirise your own highly partisan take on the matter. There are two sides to every story.

  464. #466 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    We believe in free and voluntary contractual relations, unvitiated by force or fraud. You can’t point to something which violates libertarian principles and hold it up as an example of the failure of libertarian principles.

    Then you have to reject real-existing sweatshops and the context in which they operate, as these are vitiated by force and fraud from start to finish. We were talking about real sweatshops, and you gave your (appalling, ignorant, and appallingly ignorant) opinion on them in relation to your “ideals.” You can’t simply retreat to your absurd abstract theory whenever you’re confronted with the real fucking world.

  465. #467 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    We believe in free and voluntary contractual relations, unvitiated by force or fraud. – Walton

    This is the fraud at the heart of “libertarianism”. If your only choices are to work an 80-hour week in unhealthy conditions for a pittance, street prostitution or starvation, your “agreement” to the first is not in any real sense voluntary. It was not the operation of the “Free Market” that largely put a stop to this kind of exploitation in the UK, but legislation and collective action.

    More generally, no contract between parties differing greatly in power – like a large corporation and the average individual even in a rich country – can honestly be seen as one in which both sides are equally free to make or refuse the contract. In the absence of countervailing forces – from the state, union, or other collective body – the inevitable result is inequality of wealth and power increasing without limit. Since this is so obvious, I conclude that this is indeed the result “libertarians” desire.

  466. #468 Fred Mounts
    February 2, 2009

    Patricia, OM @455

    Isn’t having your own blog enough space for your bullshit Walton?

    You say you come here to learn, but all you do is preach nonsense.

    Amen, or whatever we atheists say! Um, too fucking right? How’s that work?

    Anyway, I think that Walton is a sadist and a masochist; he likes for people to point out that he’s a moron. He should just engage in self-flagellation and leave the rest of us out of it.

  467. #469 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    There are two sides to every story. – Walton

    Indeed. All those women tortured and burned as witches must have done something to deserve it, mustn’t they?

  468. #470 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    I usually don’t comment – I’m content to read (and yes, sometimes, learn) from those who contribute to Pharyngula. This comment from SC:

    The tide is turning in the world. As I said above, the frightening question that remains is how much violence the right will use to maintain their illegitimate privilege in the face of movements for justice.

    caught my eye as being especially, and sadly, profound and accurate. Reactionary institutions (government and otherwise) are more and more threatened by popular movements, and while I am optimistic about the progress of human social development in the long term, I am not so sure that violence and oppression will not increase in the short term.

    With permission, I would love to use this in the future.

  469. #471 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    However, there are many, many people who know far more than me about Bolivian history and who would, nevertheless, vehemently disagree with you.

    Argument from authority. There are also a lot of people who know more about evolutoin than you and who believe in ID.

    When I attended a conference at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, VA this summer, I met a couple of Bolivian political activists who bemoaned the destruction of freedom and ruination of the economy under Morales.

    I’m sure they did. And I’m sure they’ll receive (if they haven’t already been receiving) the financial support of the US government and corporate right-wing organizations in their continued attempts to subvert and oppose democracy in Bolivia.

    Admittedly, my throwaway statement about Bolivia was deliberately partisan – I was, in part, intending to satirise your own highly partisan take on the matter.

    So making a statement based on ignorance is satirizing an informed viewpoint in your view.

    There are two sides to every story.

    There are usually many sides. In this case, you know virtually nothing about any of them, and should refrain from the sort of rhetoric that, as I noted, has historically been part of the propaganda that supported overthrowing democratic governments. Those who claim to value freedom should be careful about being apologists for those who claim to be promoting it by brutally imposing their own vision of it on other people rather than respecting their right to choose for themselves.

  470. #472 Matt Heath
    February 2, 2009

    Out of interest, does anyone know of any attempt by right-libertarians to answer the question of to deal with the instigation of force by the powerful? (Non-capitalist) anarchists and non-statist leftists generally at least try to answer the equivalent question, but several times I’ve asked right-libertarians and I’ve got the same shit as Walton gave: “We reject that behaviour. It’s against libertarian principles. They would be taking on the role of the state”, as if would-be feudal masters are going to hear this hand-wringing condemnation and fall in line with non-aggression.

  471. #473 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: SC, OM (#463)

    Is the suggestion that one would only substitute the feminine possessive [?] form

    They’re called “weak possessive pronouns.” Our language lacks distinctive gender-neutral forms that can be used ubiquitously, and other languages (ones I’m aware of) which have them seem to apply them inconsistently.

    when talking about negative things, or that it would only be noticed in this case, or what? Because I’ve read many a work in which the pronouns were mixed and never had this reaction.

    Seriously, will you lay the fuck off already with your concern trolling? I have read works written just like what you’re describing and I did have that reaction, and that’s the whole damned point. It’s subjective. You’re trying to make it sound intentionally objective, like if we’re aware of others’ linguistic sensitivities and disregard them in favor or readability that it instantly makes us misogynists. It’s like you see everything through a black/white prism. Your spectrum only permits you those colors (and yes, fuck-wits, I recognize white light is the combination of all colors, I’m being metaphorical), whilst I recognize there’s a broad spectrum on the application of language. If I wanted to call you an ignorant twit, I can say it straight out and avoid the subtlety.

    I’m not exactly an heir to the throne of the kingdom of subtle in recent posts, and for a very obvious reason. I’m mocking you. I’m mocking the attitude commentators on this blog take toward “outsiders.” I’m mocking the tone you take with intentionally exaggerated one-upsmanship on insults. You’re prejudiced assholes when it comes down to it, and you deign to call others racists and misogynists. How dare you?

    And the most sick fucking thing of all is that your black and white prism of false dichotomous logic completely blinds you to your own behavior. You disgust me.

  472. #474 Matt Heath
    February 2, 2009

    Ward to SC said “Seriously, will you lay the fuck off already with your concern trolling?”

    In the past pharyngulites have set the bar pretty high for misuse of the phrase “concern trolling” but you just took it to the next level.

  473. #475 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Knockgoats – Yes, they certainly did do ‘something’. My 8th great auntie Mary turned herself into a large black sow and frightened the wits out of a mans formerly fearless hound.

    Thusly the octogenarian widow deserved to be hanged, and…wait for it… have her property confiscated by church leaders.

  474. #476 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Thank you very much, Bobber, and of course you may use it. It’s sad that celebrating the growth and victories of these movements has to be tinged by this fear, but it would be unwise not to appreciate the dangers that history has shown to exist. (I’ll note that I hope I’m not being read by anyone as supporting every movement, much less government claiming to be on the left, especially in Central or South America. I have a lot of criticisms of these governments and some of these movements and often read critical writing by anarchists in these countries…with which I also sometimes disagree…)

  475. #477 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    SC, Concern Troll, OM.

    SC, would you happen to have a big shock of hair?

  476. #478 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Damn, SC, wait till Janine sees your “you disgust me.”. She’s going to be ever so jealous.

  477. #479 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    KnockGoats,

    “If your only choices are to work an 80-hour week in unhealthy conditions for a pittance, street prostitution or starvation, your “agreement” to the first is not in any real sense voluntary”

    Where are you living? How could you miss the choice to work 40 hours, drink beer, make babies and watch football on Sunday?

    Oh, you must be thinking of the third world again, where they where they stuff their money into unproductive gold rather than capital equipment. Sometimes they make the wrong choices, and the people they might have employed with that equipment suffer for lack of the wealth that equipment might have made possible. Were the exploitative colonial systems neglectful of basic education in economics?

  478. #480 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Ha, haw! See, told ya.

  479. #481 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Mat Heath (#475)

    Well, I’m applying a bit of lateral logic here. It’s surely done this in the past, probably with everyone with which it disagrees on any grounds whatsoever. So I’m taking the perspective that this is his level of concern trolling is at “class action” status by now. ;)

    See what I did there with my gender-neutral, weak possessive pronouns? I deprived “it” of personhood at the same time I illustrated a point, since I cannot be sure of “its” gender where such contextual clues are severely lacking. I did, unfortunately, have to break a rule, turning the possessive of “it” into “it’s” because I was painted into that corner – half is nominative, the other half a contraction of “it has.” That was also to illustrate a point, since we’re getting right down to brass tacks.

  480. #482 SC, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Uh, I hope no one will be disappointed if I don’t respond to that confused, ranting attempt at self-justification by Denker. You’ve revealed yourself on this thread to be a total creep, Denker, and you’ve also made your purpose here at Pharyngula (slagging) even more explicit. I’m joining ‘Tis Himself in killfiling you (I don’t have the technology, so it’s merely a commitment to do my best to ignore you in the future).

  481. #483 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    Oh, Patricia! You forced me to unblock the wanker’s comment. Ha! I like SC, You Disgust Me, OM better than SC, Concern Troll, OM.

  482. #484 SC, Feminist Concern Troll Extraordinaire, OM
    February 2, 2009

    I’m honored! (have taken some liberties)

    SC, would you happen to have a big shock of hair?

    Indeed I would (Emmet and the Rev. have now seen my picture – they can tell you).

  483. #485 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Patricia, OM (#479)

    I’m glad someone appreciated it. Registering “disgust” is also a faux position, intentionally stronger than reality. The reality is that I can’t help but feel a twinge of pity for something so blinded to its own nature.

    Hey, it can use that, if it prefers: “SC, blinded to its own nature, OM.”

  484. #486 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    HA! HA! HA! I love it!

  485. #487 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: SC, OM (#483)

    [...] Denker, and you’ve also made your purpose here at Pharyngula (slagging) even more explicit.

    SC: Officer, that man shot me!
    Officer: He has a bullet wound, what did you do?
    SC: I shot him!
    Officer: You shot him first, or you shot him back?
    SC (proudly): I pre-emptively shot him back!
    Officer:

  486. #488 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    Where are you living? -Africangenesis

    Right, I should only be concerned about people who live in the same country as me. The context, halfwit, was a discussion of conditions in the Philippines. I actually noted that such conditions scarcely occur in the UK, because of state and union action to prevent them doing so. There’s no doubt they’ll be back if you “libertarians” get your way.

    You disgust me. Ward S. Denker

    Well piss off then. You most certainly won’t be missed, you creepy little shit.

  487. #489 Endor
    February 2, 2009

    “I hope no one will be disappointed if I don’t respond to that confused, ranting attempt at self-justification by Denker. ”

    SC, you had more patience with him than he deserved. Someone that invested in maintaining blindness to unearned privilege clearly enjoys the safe confines of his rectal cavity over fresh air.

  488. #490 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    SC:

    Thank you for the reply. I admit to knowing very little about anarchism or its history before reading your comments on this blog.

    I’ve been watching the occasional libertarian wars on this blog, and am disappointed by the pie-in-the-sky idealism they cling to. I have seen this libertarian tendency in many 20-somethings (I being among the next higher generation), where relatively highly-educated young people who have never known serious want (mainly IT guys, in my experience) see no reason for unions, think that poverty is a result of laziness, and think that if only everyone would be left to their own devices, we could live in a capitalist paradise where highly ethical individuals co-exist in a world where selfish industry somehow magically produces social good.

    I’m a history guy, and I’ve spent more than half of my working life in human services and education, the other half in the corporate world. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the latter had really no clue about the realities I had to deal with in the former.

    I will share, by the way, your ambivalence toward some so-called leftist movements; all too often, the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was simply a dictatorship, with leaders who employed the same oppressive tactics, just with Soviet-bought weapons as opposed to U.S. ones.

    Anyways, please do continue these fascinating conversations. ; )

  489. #491 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    I have a question. Is it worth it for me to show the wanker’s comments to I can get the full context?

  490. #492 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    You’ve set yourself a very high goal Ward. Brenda is the reigning Troll Goddess. Knocking her off the throne is damn near impossible. And as nasty as you have been so far, you’re still points behind Pete Rooke and Piltdown Man.

  491. #493 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Ward:

    I did, unfortunately, have to break a rule, turning the possessive of “it” into “it’s” because I was painted into that corner – half is nominative, the other half a contraction of “it has.”

    I don’t see any possessive in the sentence in question. Perhaps I’ve been temporarily blinded to my own nature (that being a native speaker of American English). Please enlighten? It looks to me like a simple case of contracting “It has”. What exactly, in that sentence, does “it” possess?

  492. #494 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber:

    I’ve spent more than half of my working life in human services and education, the other half in the corporate world. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the latter had really no clue about the realities I had to deal with in the former.

    Hear, hear. I have a few good friends who qualify as conservatives, free-market Smithies who simply do not see the realities faced by human services workers such as my wife (a counseling psychologist) on a daily basis. When the bottom line is weak, The Market simply does not “care”. This is why enterprises that yield no profits tend to fall through the cracks when “fiscal responsibility” is exercised, at the expense of social and moral responsibilities. Oddly, this regularly happens when the GOP takes the reins, be it at the local, state, or federal levels. At least that’s how it looks way over here in The People’s Republic.

  493. #495 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Bobber(#491)

    I’ve been watching the occasional libertarian wars on this blog, and am disappointed by the pie-in-the-sky idealism they cling to.

    It’s “us vs. them” out of the gates… got it. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, here’s the secret hand shake and the lynchings start at 12:30 after brunch at 12:00. Libertarian lynchings will be served as an appetizer to the Republican lynchings to follow.)

    I have seen this libertarian tendency in many 20-somethings (I being among the next higher generation), where relatively highly-educated young people who have never known serious want (mainly IT guys, in my experience)

    Have you ever stopped to consider why this is?

    “IT guys” (engineers) have a higher-than-average capacity for lateral thinking. They need it in order to find problems where everything obvious has already been checked, and are forced to employ it frequently (experience reinforces it).

    Which hurts the poor more, that some of them use drugs but don’t harm others, or that the police can use the drug war to deprive them of their Fourth Amendment rights, jail them over a victimless crime, effectively denying them of any treatment for their addiction, forces the quality of the drugs they consume down (it’s illegal and black markets have no accountability) and kills them instead of just getting them high, forces the cost of drugs sky-high (so they resort to stealing to support their addiction, and using violence to defend themselves from the homeowners they’re burglarizing), and leads to gangland murders (including of innocent bystanders.

    The reason all of that’s lateral logic, and why Libertarians are good at it, is that no sane person would vote for a law that says it would create all of those problems. They’d easily vote to outlaw drugs, and ignore all of the repurcussions of that judgement.

  494. #496 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    SC: Those who claim to value freedom should be careful about being apologists for those who claim to be promoting it by brutally imposing their own vision of it on other people rather than respecting their right to choose for themselves.

    Erm, I don’t think I was saying anything of the sort… where, exactly, did I advocate invading Bolivia and overthrowing Morales by force of arms? It’s not our job to police the world; nor have I conducted a study of the strategic feasibility of any such operation.

    However, I take fundamental issue with your reference to …respecting their right to choose for themselves.

    Yes, the majority of people in Bolivia chose Morales and socialism. However, tyranny of the majority is no better than any other form of tyranny. I believe in individual choice, not mass choice. Each human being is an individual. The “people of Bolivia” have not chosen Morales any more than the “people of America” chose George Bush; the people of a nation are not a homogenous mass with one guiding will.

    I believe in the right of each individual to choose for him- or herself how to live his or her life, how to dispose of his or her private property, and which voluntary contractual arrangements to enter into.

    Look at it this way. Imagine you were the only atheist in a hyper-religious country. Let’s say the people, by an overwhelming majority, elected a government with an express mandate to stone all atheists to death. Would they be morally justified in stoning you to death? After all, “the people” have “chosen for themselves” how they want their country to be governed.

    I say not, and I doubt you disagree; the majority, even an overwhelming majority, should not have the power to take away basic rights and freedoms. And for me, those basic rights and freedoms include the right to own private property and exclude others from it.

  495. #497 Patricia, OM
    February 2, 2009

    SC, OM – Speaking of that slut, Emmet. Do you have him locked in your closet? He’s been MIA for quite a while.

  496. #498 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    When the bottom line is weak, The Market simply does not “care”.

    Of course “The Market” does not care, because “The Market” isn’t an anthropomorphic entity with human feelings. Rather, it’s an economic and social phenomenon; it exists in the same way that “societies” exist (another abstraction which leftists have an unfortunate tendency to anthropomorphise).

    Leftists love to set up a straw man libertarian argument along the lines of “The Holy Market Forces will make everything perfect and good and wonderful”, and then knock it down. In reality, that isn’t what libertarians believe. Rather, we make a much more convincing claim; that while the market sometimes produces failure, coercive government action will in most circumstances produce worse failure.

  497. #499 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber,

    Thanks again. It sounds like you have a wealth of experience and insight (and I’m not just saying that because you complimented me). You should start commenting more often!

  498. #500 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    I didn’t realize that only Libertarian IT guys supported decriminalization of drugs. Geez, I’m a Libertarian, and didn’t even know it.

  499. #501 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#495)

    We were talking about weak possessive pronouns (in this case the conflation of a nominative form with a conjunction).

    By trying to be gender-neutral, I substituted “his/her” for “its.” It‘s surely done this in the past, probably with everyone with which it disagrees on any grounds whatsoever. In this sentence, the word “it” is taken to be a nominative weak possessive pronoun, referring to an individual (an absent noun) instead of a “thing.” Because I gave it the contracted form of “it has,” it subsequently lost possession of its absent noun and just seems really weird for it. Had I used “he’s” I’d have not deprived “him” of personhood, not confused the pronoun, and not made the mistake of reassigning possession back to “it” in the sentence.

    My habit ? in this case, of actually using “it’s” correctly in most cases ? messed my example up because I restructured the sentence around the intentional mistake (rendering it not a mistake), though you’re probably now seeing where I was going with it.

    There, you got a concession speech. Well done on finding that. My punchline had much less “oomph” because I garbled it. I have the same feeling I get when trying to quickly enunciate a tongue twister. Weird.

  500. #502 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Of course “The Market” does not care, because “The Market” isn’t an anthropomorphic entity with human feelings.

    Wow, no shit, Walton – you really are on top of things! Holy mother of gob! How could I have overlooked something so obvious?

    Way to miss the point. I wasn’t even talking about Libertarianism. I was talking about people, and how they are affected by the choices made by those who DO believe that market force, if unconstrained by silly socialist notions like regulation and taxation, will make social safety nets unnecessary. Whether you personally believe or disbelieve that is moot. I’m not peddling straw, here, my young master Walton. I’m talking about what actually happens out there in the real worl, not in textbooks or in thought experiments.

    Hey, kid – are you out of college yet, or still an undergrad? I have trouble remembering.

  501. #503 Sven DIMilo
    February 2, 2009

    Emmet and the Rev. have now seen my picture

    Heeeey….no fair!

  502. #504 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#501)

    Are you being obtuse out of intention, or by accident? (Don’t take that to be an insult, it’s a rhetorical question, I’m sure its accidental. You’re being civil and deserve civility in kind.)

    Of course Libertarians aren’t all IT guys. The common thread of Libertarian thought is the application of lateral thinking to many other kinds of laws, not just drug prohibition. I selected that one because it’s (usually) common ground on which we can relate to one another. My assertion is that “IT guys” are, by the nature of their trade, lateral thinkers. This, by virtue of transition, would make them tend to be more likely to be Libertarian than other groups, would it not?

    Lateral thinking helps us to find unforeseen consequences and assign them to their root cause. Here is an example of that logic in play, different from the drug prohibition reference. I’m sure to be called a misogynist by those intentional mis-readers of that, despite copious disclaimers about the nature of the essay.

    It’s like trying to decide how to categorize geometric figures. A general classification is a parallelogram which includes all rectangles, squares and rhombuses. The rules for being a square are more narrow than most (all right angles, all equal sides), but that does not make it cease to be a parallelogram, does it?

  503. #505 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Ward, thanks for the explanation, although I confess it leaves me even more confused that I was before. Damn you. Damn you to hell.

  504. #506 WRMartin
    February 2, 2009

    where relatively highly-educated young people who have never known serious want (mainly IT guys, in my experience) see no reason for unions, think that poverty is a result of laziness, and think that if only everyone would be left to their own devices, we could live in a capitalist paradise where highly ethical individuals co-exist in a world where selfish industry somehow magically produces social good.

    And guns. Don’t forget they also need guns and plenty of ammo to make this utopian paradise they desire to actually begin to behave properly. Then, once the population is whittled down to that One True Libertariantm they can finally make it come true.

    For a few Libertarian giggles give this a try:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Minerva
    A few people with almost enough money and not much forethought (and not enough guns) and nearly no females gave it a try. More than once.
    Maybe they should have tried asking for government subsidies.

    I think of it this way: Every discipline needs its clowns. In the world of economics, politics, and social systems the Libertarians are wearing the big floppy shoes and red noses.

  505. #507 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Ack! The perils of asynchronous communication! #506 referred to #502.

    Re: #505. I was being intentionally obtuse, with the suggestion of a wink, meant to imply that your own generalizations, issued on the heels of your gentle admonition of Bobber’s own generalizations, led to some statements that I think were a bit of a stretch. For example:

    “This, by virtue of transition, would make them tend to be more likely to be Libertarian than other groups, would it not?”

    Now, however, I’m going to do something rather uncool, which is to bow out of the convo for a time, lest little old software engineer me incurs the wrath of my software engineer manager!

  506. #508 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#506)

    What’s far worse is when my brain has produced multiple lateral lines of logic (yay, alliteration) and I neglect to bring up one or the other. Then, everyone else suffers from not being able to follow me, and I suffer from myopia (sincerely believing I had said it). Sometimes I do state it, but my pitfall can be that I don’t make the case for an alternate line very well. Then there’s disjunction due to the lack of threading mechanism on this blog, which generally tends to make me appear to be even more scatterbrained than I actually am.

    It’s a lot like trying to explain how one arrives at making an informed move in chess. Lateral logic must be employed: How are you changing the behavior of your opponent and how do you expect him to respond and how should you respond to his response, and so on? After you’ve already made the decision to move the piece, it would be quite the exercise for the player to explain every nuance of the move.

    Worse yet, I knew that specific misunderstanding might occur, so I laced the drug prohibition reference in there as a segue into alternate applications of lateral thinking by Libertarians.

    If it’s confusing to you, think how confusing it is for me to explain it? Welcome to my hell. :(

  507. #509 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    Mr. Denker:

    It’s “us vs. them” out of the gates… got it.

    Who is this “us” you refer to? I’m just “me”. : )

    Have you ever stopped to consider why this is? “IT guys” (engineers) have a higher-than-average capacity for lateral thinking.Followed by excursion into drug laws, etc.

    Actually, my point was that IT guys have a highly marketable skill. They have their choice of high-paying jobs and, as I found in the Boston area, because they were so prized for their skills, they were allowed certain eccentricities (of dress, language, hours) not given to the regular office drones who worked beside them. They of course believed that everyone could get up and move to any job they wanted if they found their current positions unsatisfying, because *that* was *their* experience. They had no direct knowledge of the experience of other workers, whose skills were less prized, or who were unable, due to any number of outside circumstances, to attain the same freedom of movement as they enjoyed.

    Watchman:
    I agree with your statement regarding “the bottom line”. While I would agree with many libertarian ideas regarding personal freedom, I believe that such freedom must be tempered by social responsibility. Such responsibility should be addressed by social contracts between members of a society who, while they have individual concerns, must recognize that the greater human good generally comes from cooperation, not competition. (Please not the use of the word “generally” – I know that such statements can get me into trouble around these parts.)

    SC:
    I refrain from commenting mostly because a great number of the topics addressed in this blog require an expertise which I do not share in order to comment intelligently; that is, my interest in natural history is an amateur’s, and the more technical aspects of evolution and biology go over my head. Likewise with many economic arguments. Now, history – that I can do. : )

  508. #510 Bill Dauphin
    February 2, 2009

    Walton:

    I believe in individual choice, not mass choice. Each human being is an individual. …

    I believe in the right of each individual to choose for him- or herself how to live his or her life, how to dispose of his or her private property, and which voluntary contractual arrangements to enter into.

    So I guess you oppose all law, then, since law inherently involves, to some degree, subordinating the right of individual choice to collectively chosen boundaries? And naturally, then, no police or military, since the only mission of those institutions is to defend collectively chosen values and rules?

    So I assume that when your neighbor makes the individual choice to take your property from you merely because she desires it (and has bigger guns than you), you will happily acquiesce and proclaim the goodness of this individual choice? Or, to be a bit less extreme, when your other neighbor chooses arbitrarily to ignore his obligations to you under your voluntarily chosen bilateral contractual agreements, it will please you that there exists no community that might defend your rights, or to which you might appeal for justice?

    If you reduce that “society” you claim is a meaningless abstraction to a mere collection of bilateral interactions between individuals, then justice depends entirely on the hope that the most powerful individuals will be sufficiently enlightened that they will freely choose to deal justly with those less powerful.

    In the real world, however, those with the greatest raw power are too often neither enlightened nor interested in justice. Or have you never visited a schoolyard?

    Or to put it more succinctly, You’re livin’ in your own private Idaho!

  509. #511 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    Posted by: Bobber | February 2, 2009

    SC:
    I refrain from commenting mostly because a great number of the topics addressed in this blog require an expertise which I do not share in order to comment intelligently; that is, my interest in natural history is an amateur’s, and the more technical aspects of evolution and biology go over my head. Likewise with many economic arguments. Now, history – that I can do. : )

    I understand where you are coming from and for a long time, I rarely commented. But I hope you realize that most of the regulars are friendly sorts. Hell, they put up with me. Plus, there is enough going on that one can freely comment on topics without betraying a lack of biological knowledge. Hell, it is easy enough to learn how to refute creationists. And a lot of fun to play with them.

  510. #512 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber,

    Actually, my point was that IT guys have a highly marketable skill.

    I completely understand where you’re coming from here. Here’s the disconnect. You think that the “highly marketable skill” is their access to education (probably some variant of “white privilege” or “upper class privilege”). What I contend is that the marketable skill is actually a proclivity toward lateral thinking. It’s not a skill everyone possesses, or no man would ever answer questions like “do I look fat in this?” See ? I can be funny and relevant, sometimes. :)

    That skill would probably blossom from that individual no matter what level of privilege.

    But the flip side of the coin is the tacit admission that people without this skill have no marketable qualities whatsoever. They’re destined to be poor. I contend that this is the flaw in your logic. Aside from a very small number of people (the physically or mentally disabled), everyone has some marketable skill. It doesn’t take lateral thinking or education to learn to swing a hammer, sell a taco at a drive-through, or drive a truck for a living. Those are all fine, honest work, and there’s no shame in it. I have worked several jobs which many with my talents and education would consider to be “below them” in order to make ends meet. All that took was will, no other special skills.

    What I absoulutely do consider to be “below me” is to accept welfare and unemployment unsurance. I refuse to be a ward of the state under all circumstances but the direst of need. If I became disabled and could not participate in society in any way, I’d do so, and I have the heart to expect that society should help those people. I even support SCHIP, because children should not be punished due to the shortcomings of their parents. See, a Libertarian supports some welfare, but not all nanny-statism!

    What I do not accept is that society should help people, beyond educating them, who are able-bodied and/or intelligent to become achievers. That is misguided because it actually gives them incentive not to achieve. I firmly believe anyone can be taught to fish, but if you keep giving them fish they’ll have absolutely no reason to learn.

  511. #513 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Erm, I don’t think I was saying anything of the sort… where, exactly, did I advocate invading Bolivia and overthrowing Morales by force of arms? It’s not our job to police the world;

    Walton, please try to follow an argument. I was saying that a statement like “the deranged left-wing demagogue Evo Morales has risen to power on a wave of populism, and started expropriating (stealing) foreign-owned property for the benefit of the State” is precisely the sort of ridiculous rhetoric that has formed a part of campaigns abetting the overthrow of democratically-elected leftist governments by the right (domestic and in the US and Britain). People like you, who know next to nothing about what has actually been happening in these countries, hear or read it and then when there’s a coup (especially if, like in Chile, the new authoritarian government is amenable to imposing your propertarian policies) simply excuse it as “Well, good riddance – now they’re free of that demagogue and on the path to prosperity and real freedom.” It’s also totally dismissive of people whose ideas about what’s good for them differ from yours. If you can’t understand why they would reject neoliberalism, it must be because they’re ignorant or under the sway of authoritarian demagogues, from whom they need to be “liberated.”

    nor have I conducted a study of the strategic feasibility of any such operation.

    Yikes. Why would you even bring this up? I can assure you that the US government (and right-wing think tanks) have used their experience in conducting such operations to study the best practices or subverting democracy. They’re deploying them in Central and South America right now, and hoping for an opening to go further (they fucking kidnapped Aristide and you barely hear a word about it).

    However, I take fundamental issue with your reference to …respecting their right to choose for themselves.

    Yes, the majority of people in Bolivia chose Morales and socialism. However, tyranny of the majority is no better than any other form of tyranny. I believe in individual choice, not mass choice.

    You believe in individual choice? Please. You believe in individual “choice” to starve or work in slave-labor conditions. You believe in individual “choice” within a rigged system that other people have set up and forced on them, even if they don’t want it, but you can’t respect people’s choice to choose, democratically, the system under which they live in the first place, which is the essence of democracy (and can’t simply be reduced to voting in periodic elections). This “tyranny of the majority” stuff is nonsense. First, I was speaking about the movements on the ground in Bolivia and elsewhere of people working to regain control of their own lives and futures from those like you who have imposed their vision of “economic freedom” on them. They have acted in their local communities, and they have passed (it appears) a constitution that recognizes local democracy, political and economic. The election of Morales is merely one aspect of a process that has been driven by movements on the ground, which do not form “a homogenous mass with one guiding will” but a panoply of groups and organizations seeking social justice and human rights.

    I believe in the right of each individual to choose for him- or herself how to live his or her life,

    Which should presumably include through democratic processes and not simply which brand of soap to purchase if you can afford it.

    how to dispose of his or her private property, and which voluntary contractual arrangements to enter into.

    And the people there disagree with your notion of their rights, recognizing from hard experience what the preeminence of the “right” to private property (and “voluntary contracts”) means for those who don’t have any – what it’s meant in the real world, the world of colonialism and corporate capitalism. This has been explained to you numerous times on this thread.

    I say not, and I doubt you disagree; the majority, even an overwhelming majority, should not have the power to take away basic rights and freedoms.

    And if you knew anything about the new constitution there (or many other recent constitutions around the world), you would know that they reflect a respect for and expansion of basic rights and freedoms. They put basic human rights – to food, shelter, healthcare, education, a healthy environment and access to natural resources, as workers, and as participants in democratic decision-making – above the sacred corporate “property rights” which are supposed in some utopian future to lead to greater prosperity and freedom. Rights are not abstract, but acquire meaning only in actual practice. In practice, what you really want, as has been pointed out above, is for a small minority to decide their future for them, spitting on their rights and condemning many of them to death in the process.

    (Incidentally, since you raised the issue of religion, the new constitution is the first in Bolivia to respect fully the right to religion, or the individual “cosmovision” as it says, and to declare that the government is independent of religion rather than granting a special role to the Catholic Church as all previous have done.)

  512. #514 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    Here I am saying I refrain from commenting, and I keep commenting…

    Thanks, Janine-Of-The-Many-Morphing-Titles (I’ve been reading this blog long enough to see quite a few changes)! I do come from an atheist, leftist perspective – which is what initially drew me to this site in the first place. Hopefully, where I feel I can contribute something worthwhile, I’ll do so; otherwise, I’ll keep doing what I like to do: read the posts of people more educated on certain topics than I am, and with luck learn a bit.

  513. #515 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    SC: They put basic human rights – to food, shelter, healthcare, education, a healthy environment and access to natural resources…

    I don’t recognise those kind of positive “rights”. No one can have a “right” to food, healthcare, shelter or any other material benefit, because such a “right” necessarily entails taking from others via the coercive agency of the state. Rather, I recognise two, and only two, fundamental rights. One is the right to the inviolability of one’s private property, including one’s own body. The other is the right to enter into voluntary contracts, and to have obligations under such contracts enforced.

    Rights are not abstract, but acquire meaning only in actual practice. – I agree. Nevertheless, all law rests on a concept of rights – general rights which the law accords to everyone (such as the right to security of the person), and private rights which arise under contract or the ownership of property. The reason we invent this concept of “rights” is to delineate the circumstances under which one person is legitimately allowed to use coercive force against another, since the alternative is lawlessness and violence.

    But in any case, you’ve missed my point. We’ve established that you and I adhere to different definitions of what constitutes “rights”. I was merely saying that the fact of democratic approval has no bearing on whether or not something ought to be recognised as a “right”. Otherwise we might as well abandon constitutions and bills of rights entirely, in favour of mob rule.

    SC, I realise that you believe me to be either moronically obtuse, insane, or simply cold-hearted and evil. I can offer you nothing but my word that I am none of these things. I’m a youthful idealist – and proud of it – and I don’t pretend to be qualified to govern the world. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not running for election. But I can only say what seems to me to be right; and if you despise me for it, so be it.

  514. #516 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    Mr. Denker:

    What I contend is that the marketable skill is actually a proclivity toward lateral thinking.

    I contest this based on my own experience working in both hi-tech corporate and human services environments. “Lateral thinking” is a skill that is applied in many instances, by many individuals, in any number of types of work. The problem-solver is wanted in an IT and a human services environment; the difference is that the free market tends to prize the former (because of its value in regards to immediate profit potential) rather than the latter (because there is no immediate profit return from the investment of time and energy). It is not the skill that is valued, it is the field wherein that skill is applied that determines the relative value placed upon it by a capitalist corporate society. It is *my* contention that this represents a topsy-turvy view of the world, and that our priorities are not conducive to the highest level of human achievement and happiness.

    What I do not accept is that society should help people, beyond educating them, who are able-bodied and/or intelligent to become achievers. That is misguided because it actually gives them incentive not to achieve. I firmly believe anyone can be taught to fish, but if you keep giving them fish they’ll have absolutely no reason to learn.

    But suppose the lake is owned by someone who charges a fee for fishing rights. Or perhaps the person who taught you to fish wasn’t really that skilled a at it himself, and now you are hampered by your inadequate fishing skills. Perhaps the fish you can catch in the lake near you are healthful, but the fish in the next lake are contaminated – many libertarian and free market ideals begin with the supposition of a level playing field, which denies social history. Economic policy cannot exist in a vacuum if it is to properly address the realities faced by the citizenry.

  515. #517 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber,

    “But suppose the lake is owned by someone who charges a fee for fishing rights.”

    We are beyond the time when land rents are a major source of inequality. Created wealth through increased production is a much different case morally. The general retreat among chomskyites and progressives to land rent and colonial examples show they haven’t come to terms with this.

  516. #518 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    Africangenesis:

    My treatment of the “fishing” and “lake” comment was metaphorical, nothing more.

  517. #519 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    My treatment of the “fishing” and “lake” comment was metaphorical, nothing more.

    Well, I got criticised when I used a metaphorical example involving wood and a chair…

  518. #520 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Bobber (#517)

    It is not the skill that is valued, it is the field wherein that skill is applied that determines the relative value placed upon it by a capitalist corporate society. It is *my* contention that this represents a topsy-turvy view of the world, and that our priorities are not conducive to the highest level of human achievement and happiness.

    You’re trying to imagine the world as an idealistic place where everyone is exactly equal (this is why your position is actually utopian, and mine is realistic). We’re not equal. Some of us have rare gifts which are prized. These serve humanity by creating wealth, something that raises the standard of living of everyone in the economy, not just the wealthy.

    If you do not incentivize someone to apply their gifts (higher pay), they’ll have no reason to be achievers, and all of society suffers that loss. They might as well flip burgers if the pay is the same, and human nature (indeed, all animal nature) is to do the least amount of work necessary to achieve their goals. This is why communism utterly fails, because it’s a rejection of this reality. It cuts the productivity of the highest achievers down to that of the average achievers and, instead of benefiting from the wealth generated by over-achievement, the poor suffer further and die because the economy cannot sustain them. This is why increasing socialism is a prevailing headwind against progress, it strips achievers further and further of their incentive to achieve, and it ultimately harms the people it’s intending to help.

    But suppose the lake is owned by someone who charges a fee for fishing rights. Or perhaps the person who taught you to fish wasn’t really that skilled a at it himself, and now you are hampered by your inadequate fishing skills.

    You’re conflating my values with those of far right libertarians. I’m slightly right of center, favoring slightly more individual property ownership over public ownership. I.e. I also support reasonable levels of government land ownership.

    I also strongly reject the notion that corporations are “persons” and are due extra legislative protection to shield them from their misdeeds.

    It might surprise you that there are left libertarians as well, ones who reject the notion that anyone can own property at all. The further left they are, the wackier they become (to the point of rejecting the notion that people should be permitted to own homes for their own private use). They might be a little off of Democratic ideals on issues like gun control, but you might still call a far-left libertarian a “communist.” Similarly, you’d call a far-right libertarian a “fascist.” The only substantive difference in their philosophies from actual communists and fascists is that they believe that freedom will naturally result in their ideal social order, instead of application of force by a state to get it.

    I am a very reasonable person, but the second anyone hears the word “Libertarian” their brains shut down ? they instantly presume I’m babbling some kind of nonsense and subsequently put their fingers in their ears and shout invectives. That’s a damned shame.

  519. #521 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    If you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.

  520. #522 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    Janine: If you can’t find a partner, use a wooden chair.

    Why is it that you and Patricia, and several others, never miss an opportunity to insinuate that I’m suffering from sexual repression? Do you actually find this (a) amusing and (b) an appropriate topic of conversation for a civilised forum? (Or have I misunderstood you?)

  521. #523 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    We’re not equal.

    Is the inequality due to ability? Education? Social standing? Racial prejudice? I don’t deny that inequality exists. I do not, however, believe that all inequality is a fait accompli, and that where inequality can be remedied, we should do so. To take from Walton’s post above, much depends on what you consider a right. My opinion is closer to SC’s than it is to Walton’s, or, if I may be presumptious, likely yours.

    Some of us have rare gifts which are prized.

    In the case of “lateral thinking”, I again assert that this gift is not as rare as you think, and that it is not its scarcity, but the field in which it is applied, that determines what is prized – i.e., monetarily compensated in a way that may allow for more “freedom” than another.

    These serve humanity by creating wealth, something that raises the standard of living of everyone in the economy, not just the wealthy.

    Unfortunately, this is not substantiated by real-life evidence. Those periods where capitalism was allowed to thrive under the fewest regulations resulted in continuing high levels of human poverty, not only in the western countries of the 19th century, but as seen in the developing economies of the 20th; and a greater divide between the wealthy and the poor. This is not to say that other systems didn’t result in great poverty. Communism is not a model to folow either. But this isn’t just an “either-or” exercise. There are gradations of capitalism-socialism, and a harmonious equilibrium is possible – and where we can find that balance, we will find the greatest potential for social stability, industry, and progress.

  522. #524 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Walton,(#523)

    This is a reality check: Patricia, especially, isn’t making any particular attempt to support any sides or provide any substance to the conversations. She’s lobbing rocks with precision wit and possesses a dirty mind. If someone shouts out when hit, she’s accomplished her goal. (I, too, find it entertaining, even when I’m the target). It’s because you don’t recognize she’s playing at faux hostility with collateral damage, as opposed to real hostility from others, that is probably entertaining her.

    Man the trebuchet, Patricia, but I beg you not to load it with grapeshot when you target me! That stuff hurts!

  523. #525 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 2, 2009

    You misunderstood, my ways are inscrutable.
    Let’s rock! 1:38

  524. #526 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 2, 2009

    I don’t recognise those kind of positive “rights”. No one can have a “right” to food, healthcare, shelter or any other material benefit, because such a “right” necessarily entails taking from others via the coercive agency of the state.

    Bullshit. (And you apparently haven’t followed my link to anarchist writings.) And I don’t know how I or anyone else can make this any more clear: Capitalism entails and has always entailed taking from others, often via the coercive agency of states, sometimes directly.

    Rather, I recognise two, and only two, fundamental rights. One is the right to the inviolability of one’s private property, including one’s own body. The other is the right to enter into voluntary contracts, and to have obligations under such contracts enforced.

    I know this, and it’s absurd. If you think the so-called right to property is the basis of other rights, then you’re acknowledging that the billions of people on this planet who have no property have no effective rights. And you do not recognize people’s rights to the inviolability of their person (in addition to when this involves a woman’s not being to continue pregnancies). This is what I mean about rights as effective in practice: The right to inviolability of your body is effectively meaningless if you’re starving to death or dying from a treatable condition or from a disease caused by the poisoning of your water or its control by a corporation. There is no inviolability of their persons for people who are compelled to work in coercive and brutal conditions. You are claiming to support the right of people to choose what to do with their lives while ignoring or apologizing for all of the force and fraud that have created extreme constraints on their choices. It’s been pointed out to you that the notion of a right to “freely-chosen” contracts is a cruel joke for workers around the world who have little or no choice in the matter. And then you ignore or dismiss people’s rights to make their human rights real and effective in practice, and put rights for businesses, which are not people, above the rights of human beings. You’re living entirely in your own head.

    I agree. Nevertheless, all law rests on a concept of rights – general rights which the law accords to everyone (such as the right to security of the person), and private rights which arise under contract or the ownership of property. The reason we invent this concept of “rights” is to delineate the circumstances under which one person is legitimately allowed to use coercive force against another, since the alternative is lawlessness and violence.

    Don’t presume to lecture me on rights. I’ve spent years studying the history of rights. The recognition of rights has historically been the result of collective action by people seeking practical, effective equality, freedom, and democratic participation. Your anemic notion of rights does not negate their real history.

    But in any case, you’ve missed my point. We’ve established that you and I adhere to different definitions of what constitutes “rights”.

    This has little to do with my definition, but with Bolivians’ definition, and their right to choose democratically to put it into practice.

    I was merely saying that the fact of democratic approval has no bearing on whether or not something ought to be recognised as a “right”. Otherwise we might as well abandon constitutions and bills of rights entirely, in favour of mob rule.

    How bizarre, since I’ve been talking about the new Bolivian constitution. I can’t imagine a much more democratic process than that which went into developing and voting on that constitution, which involved months of participation by and slogging it out among an enormous number of people and groups in the country, including those who have historically had little or no political say. “[D]emocratic approval has no bearing on whether or not something ought to be recognised as a “right”? Please read that sentence again. Constitutions don’t fall from the sky, Walton – they are human products reflecting the values by which people want to live. You’re presenting it as though the existing arrangements, which have favored a small elite, are somehow sacred and can’t be changed even through the most democratic process. You favor private property over democracy. Sorry – lots of new constitutions coming about that don’t reflect your pitiful view of rights.

    SC, I realise that you believe me to be either moronically obtuse, insane, or simply cold-hearted and evil. I can offer you nothing but my word that I am none of these things. I’m a youthful idealist – and proud of it – and I don’t pretend to be qualified to govern the world. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m not running for election. But I can only say what seems to me to be right; and if you despise me for it, so be it.

    Are we going to do this dance again? I find some of the things you say detestable, which doesn’t mean I despise you. I simply wish that you would put aside this mistaken belief that abstract ideas are above real events (in the physical or sociopolitical world). If you’re really an idealist, you have a moral responsibility to engage actively with the world and to be open to changing your views if led there by your investigations. I don’t care if you read or agree with everything I say; I just want you to go out and honestly seek answers for yourself in the world and be willing to accept what you find there.

    Sven:

    Heeeey….no fair!

    OK, I’ll send it to you, too. :)

  525. #527 Bill Dauphin
    February 2, 2009

    Walton:

    No one can have a “right” to food, healthcare, shelter or any other material benefit, because such a “right” necessarily entails taking from others via the coercive agency of the state.

    So, then, no right to life, right? Because you don’t recognize any right to the the bare minimums — food and shelter — required to sustain life?

    Or maybe you simply believe in the Clash’s version of it:

    I recognise two, and only two, fundamental rights. One is the right to the inviolability of one’s private property, including one’s own body.

    …i.e., you have the right not to be killed (“the inviolability of … one’s own body”), but no right to actually live? Well, boyo, it has been suggested in some quarters that this is not enough!

    Personally, I wonder whether you’ve got it in you to actually survive in the red-in-tooth-and-claw world your “utopia” would inevitably become. I know I don’t… which is part of why I continue working in support of all that socialist twaddle like, y’know, laws ‘n stuff.

  526. #528 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber#519,

    I understood that you lake rent example was a metaphore, my point is that it is no coincidence that land rent examples are the metaphores that you come up with in your worship of equality. Examples of earned wealth would not be as persuasive a justification for your desire to impose equality by force. Let’s all bow to the equals sign.

    =

  527. #529 thalarctos
    February 2, 2009

    Rather, I recognise two, and only two, fundamental rights. One is the right to the inviolability of one’s private property, including one’s own body. The other is the right to enter into voluntary contracts, and to have obligations under such contracts enforced.

    It follows, then, that you do not recognize murder as a crime, since there is no extant victim. If that is not where your beliefs inexorably lead, please show me where I have misunderstood the entailments of your position.

    Since you, as the murderee, can’t leave your body to your heirs, there’s no one else who’s been deprived of their property rights under your formulation. Since you also do not believe in the existence of society, as you have stated on multiple occasions, there is no society/corporate entity with an overriding interest in seeing that its members don’t commit crimes against each other, up to and including murder. Therefore, in the case of murder, the way you see it, there is no one who has standing to seek recourse, correct?

    So, I believe your position can be summarized as “it’s not a crime if you don’t leave any living victims”, am I correct? Stealing your car would be a crime, but I could fix that by murdering you in the process, so that there is no longer any crime victim? And to generalize, as long as I don’t leave any living victims, there is no crime?

    If this is not correct, please show me where I have misunderstood you.

  528. #530 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: (#524)

    Is the inequality due to ability? Education? Social standing? Racial prejudice? I don’t deny that inequality exists. I do not, however, believe that all inequality is a fait accompli, and that where inequality can be remedied, we should do so.

    Nor do I. We should get on well. But, how best to properly legislate without externalities? That’s where it gets really muddy really fast. The Libertarian position is that the externalities can actually be worse than the consequence of doing nothing. Laws can create perverse incentives, horrible unforeseen consequences. Drug prohibition and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act probably do more social harm than they do good, in ways which can be hard to directly quantify (hence all of my talk about lateral thinking).

    Missed opportunities are a danger of their own, and risk is generally tied with reward. Most Libertarians of any stripe agree on that point. That twinge of guilt you feel when you realize your tax money is going to bail out auto workers and wall street is your inner Libertarian screaming “hey, they took those horrible risks, why should I have to pay for it?” In reality, you shouldn’t, and part of you knows it. The future should indicate why: Now they have been trained not to fix their problems and to request more socialization of their risk, in the form of future bailouts. Mark my words, they’ll be back in Washington, hat in hand again. They can’t fix their problems even if they wanted to, the UAW is too strong for that. Bankruptcy is their solution because it severs those contracts and allows re-negotiation. Which is more important, that they preserve their cushy over-paid jobs, or they all lose their jobs because they’ve put such a drag on their corporation that it cannot become more lean in tight times?

    There are gradations of capitalism-socialism, and a harmonious equilibrium is possible – and where we can find that balance, we will find the greatest potential for social stability, industry, and progress.

    This is a reason I am no anarchist, social or economic. I recognize that the interests of business may run counter to the interests of society. But, that does not justify protectionism. Protectionism only hurts, it never helps. The only “protectionism” I support is that of citizens, not corporations. Anti-trade laws are important, but they must also be very carefully worded so they cannot be used by government to punish production of companies they simply don’t like. The citizenry, by and large, does this job for us. As information increases and society becomes more socially liberal, our interaction with corporations change. We must work to increase both.

  529. #531 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber @ #517 just did my job for me. Well done. Ward, that comment expressed a big chunk of what I was aiming at.

    Furthermore, while an aptitude for “lateral thinking” can be an asset in any number of professions, it takes more than that aptitude to make a Libertarian (as opposed to some other beast, for example, a moderate liberal such as myself.) I’m sure you understand this, but you’re trying to get away with saying “We Libertarians are more progressively rational than the rest of you” but I challenge you to demonstrate that, rather than just assert it. You may be right, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that in my 51 years. I know many non-Libertarians who completely (or largely) agree with you on the drug-criminalization point.

    Carry on. I’ll just watch for a while.

  530. #532 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    That twinge of guilt you feel when you realize your tax money is going to bail out auto workers and wall street is your inner Libertarian screaming “hey, they took those horrible risks, why should I have to pay for it?” In reality, you shouldn’t, and part of you knows it.

    I don’t feel that twinge. I assure you it’s not because I don’t have the ability to feel guilt. I am the product of an Italian Catholic upbringing, I know all about guilt. The only guilt I would feel is if, by not providing loans to the auto industry or the Wall Streeters (guess which bloc I see as more unethical than the other?), their collapse were to trigger more social instability and misery as a result of lost jobs. Am I happy that the misbehaviors of the owning class may cause the middle and working class to suffer? No, but until I can find a more reasonable alternative that has a chance of being enacted by that self-same owning class (read: politicians), then a policy that may keep the financial status of millions of Americans from denigrating even further than they have over the last thirty years is better than nothing.

    As far as protectionism, etc.: I cannot offer an informed opinion, other than to say that any policy that would benefit the most people is one I would support. While that may not necessarily mean that imports should be limited (directly or indirectly through the use of import tariffs), perhaps it is time to consider attaching a value-added tax to imported goods – or, should it be, “real value”: consider adding in a percentage tax on a Chinese toy sold at Wal-Mart, taking into account the difference in monetary terms to a producing (not merely consuming) economy to not have that toy produced domestically, for a decent living wage, by a worker with health care benefits and a pension.

    We need to re-examine what we mean by “cost” and “value”.

  531. #533 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#532)

    You’re right in that I recognize that it’s not a master set for all Libertarians. We have our joiners, just like every set does, who come to Libertarianism out of misunderstanding of what we actually support. There’s surely white supremacists who call themselves “Libertarians” (despite their incapacity to see how very unlike the rest of us they really are). There’s believers in New World Order conspiracy theories and all kinds of other nonsense.

    By and large, my experience with other Libertarians is that most of us have views similar to mine (pretty moderate with a slight lean to the right). There are some who are more left libertarian (my wife) and more right (myself) but, most of us seem to be just slightly right of the axis when our views are averaged out. This is almost purely on matters of economics, I think because, where risk/reward is factored in vs. the dangers of externalities, a system that models human nature more closely emerges naturally.

    I suspect that Milton Friedman, for instance, might object to my particular view. I’d argue that his views of reality are off-course because he fell in love with the logic of it all to the point that it goes down a slippery slope. It’s not that I think he may not have been right about a lot of things, it’s that he’s too utopian about it (or dystopian to a far leftist libertarian). It’s why I end up so near the center, but lean far away from the dangers of excessive statism. The state needs restriction and unlimited power with no accountability (occurring a little at a time, or in leaps and bounds) should not be conferred upon it. A state is not a person either and it has no special abilities which I do not possess (and especially not compassion for others).

  532. #534 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Bobber (#533)

    The only guilt I would feel is if, by not providing loans to the auto industry or the Wall Streeters (guess which bloc I see as more unethical than the other?), their collapse were to trigger more social instability and misery as a result of lost jobs.

    Ah, well this gets into a whole separate area of argument altogether. It seems we can both (tentatively) agree that the externality here (and it’s a big one) is that corporations are now incentivized to protect the status quo and come back for further bailouts rather than fix their problems. That is the sure harm of doing something.

    Let’s look at the harm of doing nothing. Surely people would lose jobs. That’s a given. But the above is not the only externality. In Keynesian economics, money is taken from productive sources in society and put into unproductive ones. Worse, the money doesn’t ever exist (the actual slippery slope that the logic really did slide down), so it has to be printed (which increases inflation and should be seen as a tax on everyone) or borrowed (costing even more, in interest).

    So what we’ve really done is select winners and losers. Society cannot support all of the auto manufacturers it now has. People just aren’t buying cars from some of them, and for very good reasons. But you can’t see “foreign” car companies as actually foreign. They operate plants in America, they employ American workers, and they pay American taxes. For all intents and purposes, they’re every bit as American as any other company. The only real difference is that some of the money at the top goes overseas. They leverage a work force here to produce their product (presumably because workers in their nations don’t want to build cars for a living, or any one of a number of reasons to operate in America). They do this efficiently, and consumers reward them naturally with business.

    We’re incentivizing poor production to save jobs and keeping the “foreign” car companies from their deserved market share (and from employing more American workers at their plants instead). Worse, we’re doing it at the behest of everyone, taking productive dollars out of the system.

    What we should be looking at is solutions without all of these nasty externalities. The actual solution is to incentivize production. Trying to incentivize employment, whilst simultaneously incentivizing poor production, is thinking emotionally. If we increase production, more employment naturally follows (growth increases jobs). What is killing off our production? Laws, and lots of them.

    Take minimum wage laws. They actually run counter to employability and are what is driving companies to exploit foreign labor markets, like China’s. That’s production we willingly sacrifice and lost jobs on top of it. It’s also thinking with our emotions instead of with our heads because we genuinely want people to be paid a fair wage and to be able to make a living. There are labor markets of workers who are both willing to produce at below minimum wage and have an incentive to do so (students, for example). And anyone would take a job over none at all, even if it’s a stepping-stone out of an exploitative shit-hole.

    Externalities, man. We are a well-meaning society, but sometimes too well meaning for our own good, and we tend to reject the reality, the consequences, of our actions.

  533. #535 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Ward:

    You’re trying to imagine the world as an idealistic place where everyone is exactly equal (this is why your position is actually utopian, and mine is realistic).

    Geez, Ward. Strawman alert. Who was complaining about strawman versions of libertarianism? That’s a gross misrepresentation of what Bobber was saying.

    Bobber’s point was that the same skillsets have vastly different value depending on economic context. It has NOTHING to do with some utopian vision of equality. The point is that capitalist systems often fail to create equity between the social worth of a venture and the economic value placed, by the free market, on that venture. See: education, human services.

    Now, it’s true that your version may be “realistic” in that it represents what IS – but how does that make it a superior in any other way? See: Bobber’s reply to you.

    Incidentally, Ward, I was interested to see you mention the distinction between left- and right-Libertarianism. I know the Libertarianism often gets lumped in with the right wing, because of some overlap in some of the philosophical details, but I’ve always thought of it as a third vector, an added dimension, which (at the very least) enriches the American political landscape. Why must we be constrained to “left” or “right” – why not “up”, “down”, “out” or “in”? Life is not one-dimensional, why should politics be so?

    Time to go pick up the 4th-grader from school. That’s my utopian ideal of what 5:33 p.m. is all about.

  534. #536 Watchman
    February 2, 2009

    Gah… I’ve fallen way behind the Bobber-Denker convo here. Ah well. G’night all.

  535. #537 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    You’re running into areas that are farther and farther removed from the main, but this:

    Take minimum wage laws. They actually run counter to employability and are what is driving companies to exploit foreign labor markets, like China’s. That’s production we willingly sacrifice and lost jobs on top of it.

    needs to be addressed. Consider, as has been reported, that some products manufactured in China are made using slave labor in prisons. Are you suggesting that the only way for the U.S. to compete is to emulate Chinese labor policies?

    I would counter that what makes U.S. companies seek foreign labor is because they are not satisfied with profits of 5% when 50% is available, work and social conditions be damned. It is NOT unreasonable for a corporation, run by ethically-minded people, to forgo a higher profit for the benefit of the workers who make ANY profit possible.

    Unethical business practices should be regulated. People who work full time, and yet still cannot sustain themselves, is unethical, if a corporation has the wherewithal to pay a living wage. China is a poor example for more developed nations to emulate in this regard, if for no other reason than the cost of living in China is hardly comparable. In addition, the Chinese government also enforces some of the most draconian protectionist policies in its trade; in this, its policies make the opposite argument of what you intend.

  536. #538 Walton
    February 2, 2009

    Thalarctos: It follows, then, that you do not recognize murder as a crime, since there is no extant victim. If that is not where your beliefs inexorably lead, please show me where I have misunderstood the entailments of your position.

    Murder is and should be a crime, like assault, battery and other forms of physical violence, because it entails illegitimate interference with a person’s bodily integrity, and a person’s body is a part of that person’s property.

    Therefore, in the case of murder, the way you see it, there is no one who has standing to seek recourse, correct?

    We’re talking about criminal law, correct? In which case, in English law (and, so far as I’m aware, other common law jurisdictions), the existence of a living victim is irrelevant. The need for a victim with locus standi to bring an action is an issue in private law, but not in criminal law. Criminal prosecutions are generally brought by the State, though in English law it is perfectly possible to bring a private prosecution (see the infamous case of Whitehouse v Lemon). The victim doesn’t have to be involved in the process, and, indeed, some crimes don’t have identifiable victims at all.

    In any case, even if we were talking about private rather than criminal law, the law recognises that, in some senses, a person’s interests survive his or her death. In England and Wales, under the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, a cause of action (in private law) which was vested in a person prior to his or her death continues to subsist for the benefit of his or her estate.

    So, in short, you’re talking crap, as far as recognised legal concepts are concerned. On a more philosophical level: the reason we punish murder is not because the punishment is of any benefit to the deceased victim, but rather in order to deter persons in general from committing murder.

    SC: If you think the so-called right to property is the basis of other rights, then you’re acknowledging that the billions of people on this planet who have no property have no effective rights.

    Wrong. Under the principle of self-ownership, a person’s body and mind are part of his or her property. Ergo, there is no human being on Earth who has no property. And, indeed, for most people their person is their most economically valuable asset, since they subsist by selling their labour.

    I’ll answer the rest of your points tomorrow. I’m tired.

  537. #539 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#536)

    Perhaps I have erected a straw man, and it was not my intention. If it’s actually not the case, I apologize. This does seem like a fairly black & white issue though. Either one supports the idea that government can enforce wage equality (one has faith that government is good at it), or they don’t (they’re skeptical). Ascribing that power to government and not limiting the extent to which it can be put is dangerous, because it’s exactly the “creeping socialism” that worries Republicans. There aren’t very many hard lines drawn for government, except those in our Constitution, and government largely ignores that document.

    Government needs boundaries, in my mind, ones which can never be crossed, even in moments of weakness. How best to provide those boundaries, beyond just holding them accountable to their crimes against the Constitution, is quite the question, isn’t it?

    As for the rest, you’re absolutely right, there are multiple dimensions. Here’s my personal political compass. Be aware that, should you take that test, there are questions on it which are clearly designed to elicit a particular response. They’ve put together a FAQ so they they can concentrate all of those concerns in one place and safely ignore them.

    The fact that you can recognize the other dimensions is telling. It’s nice to know that someone agrees that differing points of view provide enrichment to the political sphere.

  538. #540 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: (#538)

    needs to be addressed. Consider, as has been reported, that some products manufactured in China are made using slave labor in prisons. Are you suggesting that the only way for the U.S. to compete is to emulate Chinese labor policies?

    Absolutely not. Our laws should expressly forbid profit from slavery, no matter what form it takes. This is a line we should never allow the market to cross.

    I would counter that what makes U.S. companies seek foreign labor is because they are not satisfied with profits of 5% when 50% is available, work and social conditions be damned. It is NOT unreasonable for a corporation, run by ethically-minded people, to forgo a higher profit for the benefit of the workers who make ANY profit possible.

    Ah, but here’s the rub. It costs money to ship things overseas (but not as much for ideas ? we exploit India for those). What is it that makes that profit margin so wide that it can overcome a natural barrier, like the Pacific Ocean? Laws. That’s the only explanation. Our country hinders the market, creating something which is certainly less than free. Which is the lesser of two evils: to repeal minimum wage laws, tariffs, and other protectionistic measures in our country and have our workers get those jobs, under the watchful eye of our own government and accountable under our laws, or to allow what happens now to continue unabated, harming our economic productivity, and under corrupt government in China with terrible working conditions with their deplorable human rights record?

    Do you think the meager externalized cost of laws like OSHA alone overcomes the natural barrier to trade an expensive trip across an ocean provides?

  539. #541 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Bobber (#538)

    Unethical business practices should be regulated. People who work full time, and yet still cannot sustain themselves, is unethical, if a corporation has the wherewithal to pay a living wage.

    This is making a fallacious assumption that all businesses must provide full-time jobs with a living wage. That almost eliminates part-time positions except in the case where rare and profitable skills are employed, and not physical labor (which anyone can provide). If you ever wondered why there are so many undocumented workers in construction, that’s your answer. They’re willing to work for under the minimum wage and without the tax burden our country places on workers. Would it not stand to reason that there are Americans who would be willing to work under those conditions, if it was a choice between swinging a hammer for low pay part-time or being unemployed and living beneath an overpass?

    Would it not stand to reason that Americans who already don’t make that much at a full-time, “living wage” position might seek to work part-time for less than minimum wage to make ends meet (or even afford to save money instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck)? Not everyone has the skills to work a part-time job at minimum wage, or above it. The minimum wage is actually discriminating against citizens (they go to prison for tax evasion) and encouraging the influx of illegals (at worst, they just get deported).

  540. #542 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    No one can have a “right” to food, healthcare, shelter or any other material benefit, because such a “right” necessarily entails taking from others via the coercive agency of the state. Rather, I recognise two, and only two, fundamental rights. One is the right to the inviolability of one’s private property, including one’s own body. – Walton

    So a person with more than they can possibly need has the right to let others starve in order to increase the price they can get for the food they have hoarded, or just for the fun of it. Yes, that’s cold-hearted and evil alright.

  541. #543 thalarctos
    February 2, 2009

    We’re talking about criminal law, correct? In which case, in English law (and, so far as I’m aware, other common law jurisdictions), the existence of a living victim is irrelevant. The need for a victim with locus standi to bring an action is an issue in private law, but not in criminal law.

    If the only right you recognize is a property right to your own body, as you stated earlier, then where does the locus standi lie if there is no living person with a property interest in the body in question?

    Criminal prosecutions are generally brought by the State, though in English law it is perfectly possible to bring a private prosecution (see the infamous case of Whitehouse v Lemon). The victim doesn’t have to be involved in the process, and, indeed, some crimes don’t have identifiable victims at all.

    This is where I find your assertions confusing–you go back and forth between “there is no society” and “the State has an interest”. Sometimes you seem to argue there is no corporate entity larger than the individual, and sometimes you seem to argue that there is. This inconsistency is why I cannot get a handle on your arguments.

    In any case, even if we were talking about private rather than criminal law, the law recognises that, in some senses, a person’s interests survive his or her death. In England and Wales, under the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, a cause of action (in private law) which was vested in a person prior to his or her death continues to subsist for the benefit of his or her estate.

    If the only interest in the body is a property one, and you cannot inherit a body as property, then where does the benefit to the estate lie?

    So, in short, you’re talking crap

    You say “crap”; I say “reductio ad absurdum”. Potato, po-TAH-to.

    , as far as recognised legal concepts are concerned. On a more philosophical level: the reason we punish murder is not because the punishment is of any benefit to the deceased victim, but rather in order to deter persons in general from committing murder.

    Who is “we” in this case, Walton–society? But you argue that there is no such thing. So who is the “we” who benefits from deterrence, and in the absence of a property right to the deceased’s body, on what defensible grounds do “we” do so?

  542. #544 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    If you do not incentivize someone to apply their gifts (higher pay), they’ll have no reason to be achievers, and all of society suffers that loss. They might as well flip burgers if the pay is the same, and human nature (indeed, all animal nature) is to do the least amount of work necessary to achieve their goals. – Ward S. Denker

    What an absurd misunderstanding of human nature. People enjoy using their talents (for that matter, so do many other mammals and birds). Many people even like to cooperate with and help others. There is considerable research in experimental psychology showing that monetray incentives drive out intrinsic motivation.

  543. #545 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Knockgoats(#543)

    So a person with more than they can possibly need has the right to let others starve in order to increase the price they can get for the food they have hoarded, or just for the fun of it. Yes, that’s cold-hearted and evil alright.

    This is just silly. Food is a commodity. It has a value, and there are many providers of it. The market punishes stupid risks like this (people just buy from a competitor instead). It’s not like food has an infinite shelf life and the people who produce food don’t have any other wants or desires. They must sell it before it expires (and there’s an incentive to sell it earlier — people pay more for really fresh food). That’s why we have currency instead of bartering, isn’t it?

    Trying to boil this down to a two-party interaction, and insisting that one party has everything (including all the food) and the other party has nothing of value to trade for it is reductio ad absurdum. It’s denying that there is any market at all, that there are competing forces within that market, and there are no market disincentives to cheat.

  544. #546 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    “What an absurd misunderstanding of human nature. People enjoy using their talents (for that matter, so do many other mammals and birds). Many people even like to cooperate with and help others. There is considerable research in experimental psychology showing that monetray incentives drive out intrinsic motivation.”

    Except there are imbalances, far more people have a talent for art, and music and sports than have talent for supply chain management. Incentives help even out the imbalance and make the market work a little better. Truck driving and nursury school worker are my talents, but I was incentivized to do other things, because this mean ole society doesn’t recognize the equal value of these professions. Other people must have the same talents because the lines to apply were so long. Whoops, another imbalance. OK central planner what do you have in mind? Hopefully doubling or tripling the number of children and trucks.

  545. #547 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Knockgoats(#543)

    What an absurd misunderstanding of human nature. People enjoy using their talents (for that matter, so do many other mammals and birds). Many people even like to cooperate with and help others. There is considerable research in experimental psychology showing that monetray incentives drive out intrinsic motivation.

    Wow, what bunk. Tell me why it was that the Soviet Union, the biggest experiment in central planning our world has ever tried, failed miserably? Was all of that starvation simply because they didn’t like the national anthem?

    I’ll give you that the caged bird may sometimes sing, but some of them just continue to eat, shit, and drink and glare at you in the process.

    It’s the rare example indeed that one finds a talent that cannot be exploited, provided enough money is offered. You’re denying that hierarchy and structure in nature forms on its own. Some animals work co-operatively with others, but most work counter to all others in pursuit of their own goals. Cooperation is emergent. Humans work together to accomplish goals that one human cannot, and if self-interest does not provide that motivation, we create proxies to motivate self-interest (we call this goofy stuff ‘money’). Tit for tat. I have the grain, you’re good at building houses. Build me a barn, I’ll feed you for a year. Because human bonds don’t last forever, we break up work into smaller units and for smaller units of exchange.

  546. #548 Wowbagger
    February 2, 2009

    A question on Libertarianism principles – are monopolies considered bad? If so, what would prevent them from occurring in a Libertarian society?

    This isn’t a trick question. This is all quite new to me and I’m trying (and failing) to keep up.

  547. #549 Bobber
    February 2, 2009

    This is making a fallacious assumption that all businesses must provide full-time jobs with a living wage.

    I didn’t suggest that. I said that a full-time job should provide a living wage. Of course companies are free to hire part-time workers at lesser cost.

    If you ever wondered why there are so many undocumented workers in construction, that’s your answer. They’re willing to work for under the minimum wage and without the tax burden our country places on workers.

    You left out the second part of that equation: the employer who is willing to exploit illegal migrants, hire them in contravention of U.S. labor laws, and deny them proper health care and investment in any retirement system, all for pursuit of the all-mighty dollar. The employer is acting illegally and unethically. Again, this is not behavior to emulate.

    “Would it not stand to reason that there are Americans who would be willing to work under those conditions, if it was a choice between swinging a hammer for low pay part-time or being unemployed and living beneath an overpass?”

    But that’s not the choice (nor is that a real choice). Allow me to counter: would it not stand to ethical behavior for an employer to offer decent working conditions and a living wage to the employees who are necessary to ensure corporate profit? Why should we allow corporations, created by Americans, initially employing Americans, to go overseas and buy out of the social contract that made their very existence and success possible in the first place? Corporations don’t merely make contracts between themselves and their workers; they also make contracts with the communities that depend on the wages and benefits their workers earn. When a corporation moves overseas to increase their profit margin, they are guilty of destroying whole social systems. They should be held responsible for these things.

  548. #550 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    Since a plurality of libertarians are constitutionalists, and anti-trust laws have been ruled constitutional there may be no problem with monopolies for them. In fact, I know many libertarians oppose the anti-trust exemptions for unions. Part of the reason libertarians are libertarians is because they oppose the monopolies inherent in central planning and state ownership. Most monopolies needed an element of government intervention to create them, emminent domain for utilities, railroads and roads, intellectual “property” such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, etc. It is along the paths of such deviations from libertarian principles that practical libertarian gradualism applies. As the governments role becomes less and less, the number of libertarian fellow travelers becomes fewer and fewer.

  549. #551 Brownian
    February 2, 2009

    I worry about the day I meet a Libertarian that has even a modicum of anthropological knowledge to inform their treatises on human nature. I fear my heart won’t take it and I’ll immediately succumb to thrombosis.

  550. #552 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Wowbagger (#549)

    Yes, and no. Monopolies which arrive at their position by doing everything right and not unfairly competing in the market (lobbying for laws that protect their position, for example) may actually be alright. Such a company would be the “ideal.” It’s probably not possible that a company would ever reach this ideal without protectionism because people interact with the market in really weird ways. It would be impossible to meet every interest.

    My wife and I shop for groceries together. There are three big chain stores relatively close by. One of them she doesn’t like to shop at because she feels the employees are rude (market pressure to hire polite staff) and is very disorganized, another is relatively quick to shop at for small amounts of groceries (self-check-out, a selection pressure for expedience) but somewhat disorganized, and the third is the cheapest but doesn’t have quite the selection the other two have. We tend to do our shopping in a somewhat mixed fashion, depending on circumstance. If we’re being lazy and don’t want to do much shopping, we go to the fastest one. In and out, done. If we are getting a lot of groceries, the cheapest one is favored. The one with rude employees and poor layout… they don’t get much of our business, despite the fact that they carry some products we like the other two do not.

    I think a mixed market where competition is protected is the most likely scenario to arise in an emergent fashion. Price is the biggest driver, but other factors do take their toll.

    Where inequality comes into play and anti-competitive behavior is being rewarded by the market, government has an obligation to step in. It’s better to avoid falling for tricks though and to avoid passing laws that favor or protect their position.

  551. #553 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Bobber,

    “You left out the second part of that equation: the employer who is willing to exploit illegal migrants, hire them in contravention of U.S. labor laws, and deny them proper health care and investment in any retirement system, all for pursuit of the all-mighty dollar. The employer is acting illegally and unethically”

    Excuse me. Libertarians believe in open immigration, there would be no “illegal immigrants”, except those that might intend harm. Even in this hypocritical legal limbo that the current system keeps them in, these workers create enough surplus over what they view as their needs to send money back to Mexico that is a significant contributer to the Mexican economy. Don’t conflate legality and ethics.

  552. #554 Africangenesis
    February 2, 2009

    Brownian#552,

    “I worry about the day I meet a Libertarian that has even a modicum of anthropological knowledge to inform their treatises on human nature. I fear my heart won’t take it and I’ll immediately succumb to thrombosis.”

    You better leave now.

  553. #555 Wowbagger
    February 2, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    Thanks. I suppose my problem isn’t as much monopolies as what is considered acceptable to become and/or remain one. I think of things like what the auto industry did in California (or was it just LA?) by buying up public transport only to remove it so people would buy more cars. I guess, though, that wouldn’t stop someone else from starting up more public transport.

    intellectual “property” such as patents, trademarks and copyrights

    Are these bad things? If so, how else does someone earn money from their ideas?

  554. #556 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Re: Bobber(#)

    I said that a full-time job should provide a living wage.

    That’s not how the law is written regarding the minimum wage. Few organizations are exempt from it.

    Re: Africangenesis (#551)

    Part of the reason libertarians are libertarians is because they oppose the monopolies inherent in central planning and state ownership. Most monopolies needed an element of government intervention to create them, emminent domain for utilities, railroads and roads, intellectual “property” such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, etc. It is along the paths of such deviations from libertarian principles that practical libertarian gradualism applies.

    Yep, I wrote an essay on just this thing rather recently, in fact, that lays it all out from a historical perspective following our growing pains with AT&T.

    And now, I must be off, ironically, groceries must be obtained.

  555. #557 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 2, 2009

    If you think the so-called right to property is the basis of other rights, then you’re acknowledging that the billions of people on this planet who have no property have no effective rights.

    Wrong. Under the principle of self-ownership, a person’s body and mind are part of his or her property. Ergo, there is no human being on Earth who has no property. And, indeed, for most people their person is their most economically valuable asset, since they subsist by selling their labour.

    How did I know Walton would pluck that one sentence out of context, ignoring its context? Oh, well. Please explain, Walton, how the “right” to bodily property in your sense (which doesn’t even include the right to subsistence – to life itself; so loony I can’t believe I’m actually typing it), alone, forms the basis, as you claimed on the earlier thread, for all of the other rights. The effective basis. In real and not theoretical terms. And not that they’re mutually reinforcing, but that, as you claimed, it is foundational to them, with the others not worthy of your recognition as foundational rights. I’ll make it easy – refer only to the rights, including participation in the political process, identified in the US Constitution (ignoring the Ninth Amendment).

    I’ll answer the rest of your points tomorrow.

    You can try. Oh – another quick question. Can you think of some reasons why the majority of Bolivians, for example, don’t share your vision of rights? (Not do you agree with them, mind you, but can you conceive of some possible reasons for their rejection?)

  556. #558 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2009

    Ward S. Denker@548,
    As usual, you haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about. As I said, there is empirical evidence that monetary rewards can under some circumstances actually reduce motivation. See for example:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=203330 and:

    http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/7783/1/MPRA_paper_7783.pdf

    Beyond that, I’m compelled to conclude that you are a sad case indeed, unable to enjoy productive activity for its own sake. I conclude also that you have never watched a crow or seagull performing aerobatics in a strong wind, seen film of otters playing, or kept a dog.

    What relevance you think the Soviet Union has is unclear – I suppose it’s just the standard “libertarian” fall-back. Central planning in a dictatorship is not the only alternative to leaving everything to the market. Have you noticed that starvation is not common in Scandinavia, for example? (In fact, life expectancy is greater and infant mortality less than in the USA.)

    Africangenesis, try to stop being so stupid. The pretence that the only alternatives are “libertarianism” or a command economy is absurd. Nor am I saying that market mechanisms can never be useful. In the current case I am simply pointing out that Denker’s dogmatic insistence that money is the only motivation for work is contradicted both by everyday experience – many people enjoy their jobs – and by systematic empirical research.

    Trying to boil this down to a two-party interaction, and insisting that one party has everything (including all the food) and the other party has nothing of value to trade for it is reductio ad absurdum. – Ward S. Denker

    You contemptible ignoramus. The situation I describe is not a reductio ad absurdum, but something that frequently occurs in famines, where food is hoarded to raise the price, and those wanting it have already sold everything they can to stay alive. Walton’s “principles” dictate that in that situation, the hoarder has every right to let others starve. That is indeed heartless and evil – and a natural consequence of “libertarianism”.

  557. #559 Ward S. Denker
    February 2, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    Seeing as you have taken it upon yourself to misconstrue, exaggerate, make fallacious assertions which you cannot back up, and even downright lie about a position you do not understand, I’m pretty much just going to ignore you.

    Straighten up, stop acting like a pushy dickwad, and ask a question or two with an honest desire to understand the answer instead of an underhanded motive to slag on Libertarians and I may change my mind.

  558. #560 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 2, 2009

    Apropos of nothing in particular: Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, Verso, 2001.

  559. #561 Africangenesis
    February 3, 2009

    Wowbanger#556

    intellectual "property" such as patents,
    trademarks and copyrights

    Are these bad things? If so, how else does
    someone earn money from their ideas?

    They can be the basis for monopolies that government makes possible that
    wouldn’t be possible otherwise.  Huge multinational corporations often
    cross license hundreds of related patents, so they aren’t constantly suing each
    other court.  But while that clears the way for them to do business, all
    these patents can represent insurmountable barriers to entry for other
    competition.  Software is often protected by copyright, and has been the
    basis for dominant market power such as Microsoft.   Libertarians
    recognize that intellectual property is an artificial construct and like
    corporations they are subjected to extra scrutiny to justify their existence.  
    Yes, they make a contribution, copyright protects authors and artists and
    publishers; protecting trademarks can reduce fraud and improve the trust in the
    market, and patents can increase to returns to and thus incentivize innovation. 
    All are goals modern societies have found worthwhile.  But most
    libertarians want some reform at least.   Patents have been limited in
    length so that eventually the monopoly faces competition.   The reform
    ideas surround concerns that when too minor of innovations are allowed to be
    patented, e.g., obvious or rational increases in the functionality of a product,
    that this monopoly gets effectively extended and perhaps can be maintained
    indefinitely by gaming the system.  Some argue that it has gotten so bad
    that we might be better off without patents.  More optimal might be somehow
    restricting it to major, non-obvious innovations.

  560. #562 Africangenesis
    February 3, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    As I said, there is empirical evidence that monetary rewards can under some
    circumstances actually reduce motivation

    I haven’t followed the whole context, so I hope you aren’t implying that this
    is an argument against libertarianism or market based economics. 
    Libertarian societies are very tolerant of people motivated by things other than
    money.  I know  you claim to have a society in mind that isn’t based
    on central control, yet somehow isn’t libertarian, but must your society be
    intolerant of property and markets?  Could it exist on communally owned
    land within a libertarian fabric.  Tolerance is usually where
    libertarianism excels in moral evaluations.  If people are not motivated by
    money, are there enough people to help the disadvantaged, the way you seem to
    want to, without robbing Peter to pay Paul?  Are such people motivated to
    work hard to produce wealth to help others, or are the types that would produce
    in the societies you envision, not that motivated to produce material wealth?

  561. #563 windy
    February 3, 2009

    Tell me why it was that the Soviet Union, the biggest experiment in central planning our world has ever tried, failed miserably? Was all of that starvation simply because they didn’t like the national anthem?

    To Stalin, it was a feature, not a bug.

  562. #564 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    Seeing as you have taken it upon yourself to misconstrue, exaggerate, make fallacious assertions which you cannot back up, and even downright lie about a position you do not understand, I’m pretty much just going to ignore you.

    Denker, I don’t give a shit whether you ignore me or not, but for the record, in our latest spat I’ve simply been demonstrating the falsity of this crass piece of stupidity:

    If you do not incentivize someone to apply their gifts (higher pay), they’ll have no reason to be achievers, and all of society suffers that loss. They might as well flip burgers if the pay is the same, and human nature (indeed, all animal nature) is to do the least amount of work necessary to achieve their goals. – Ward S. Denker

    I know all I need to know about the stupidity, callousness and sanctimoniousness of “libertarianism”, and understand it completely: it’s an elaborate justification of “I’m all right Jack”, nothing more.

  563. #565 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    I haven’t followed the whole context, so I hope you aren’t implying that this is an argument against libertarianism or market based economics.

    No, I wasn’t claiming that. I was responding to a specific piece of stupidity from Denker.

    Libertarian societies are very tolerant of people motivated by things other than money.

    You seem to have fooled yourself into believing that such societies exist.

    I know you claim to have a society in mind that isn’t based on central control, yet somehow isn’t libertarian, but must your society be intolerant of property and markets? Could it exist on communally owned land within a libertarian fabric.

    First, let me reiterate that I am a democrat, advocating direct democracy specifically, so all that follows is advocated on the condition of majority agreement.
    It is specifically property in the (major) means of production, distribution and exchange that I believe should be communal – and this might mean, in different cases, worker cooperatives, municipal ownership, or ownership at all levels of democratic organisation up to the global.
    I have no problem with privately-owned small businesses or with the use of market mechanisms in general; it is the gross inequalities, and concentration of wealth and power, that capitalism generates and reinforces that are objectionable. Major decisions about capital investment should be taken democratically, not in order to maximise profit for a minority. In that sense, I believe in economic planning, but planning at multiple levels, with decisions taken by popular vote (or delegated to a group of experts by popular vote) after negotiation between all those with a significant stake in the outcome.

    Tolerance is usually where libertarianism excels in moral evaluations.

    No, it doesn’t. It just insolently claims an exclusive title to a belief in personal freedom and autonomy.

    If people are not motivated by money, are there enough people to help the disadvantaged, the way you seem to want to, without robbing Peter to pay Paul? Are such people motivated to work hard to produce wealth to help others, or are the types that would produce in the societies you envision, not that motivated to produce material wealth?

    Taxing the rich to support the poor is not “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Effectively all wealth is socially generated; the absolute property rights assumed by “libertarianism” have no moral justification. That does not mean personal property should be abolished or that material incentives cannot be used; but a society wholly or mainly dependent on such incentives is going to be highly destructive of its environment and in the long run, of itself.

  564. #566 Ken Cope
    February 3, 2009

    intellectual “property” such as patents, trademarks and copyrights

    Are these bad things? If so, how else does someone earn money from their ideas?

    [IANAL!!!]Whether or not those are bad things depends on one’s perspective. If you’re a privately-funded corporation who has gotten a head start on stem cell research because you’ve had no competition from federally funded research institutions, then everybody who wants to exploit your results must pay you a fee, for the number of years that Benjamin Franklin thought would be fair. When we, as the State, collectively invest in multiple, federally funded research institutions which may yield effective results that can be simultaneously exploited by multiple commercial enterprises (rather than serially, or at great additional expense passed on to consumers by paying for patents), better products reach their market sooner, while at the same time, a fresh crop of researchers whose educations said corporations did not have to directly subsidize, from which the corporations with deepest pockets can hire the best and most promising. The corporation that can best exploit the results and the newly trained researchers can get the best products to market most effectively, with less investment than if it had been a private, vertical enterprise, making the cost of the products lower for the investors (American taxpayers), since the competitive private corporations have had to invest less for a wider array of resources than would have been available to them without availing themselves of the commons.

    Pardon the run-on sentences, I’m an animator, not an economist. “Information wants to be free, but it also wants to be expensive,” to paraphrase Bruce Sterling. I want my products to get out there to the widest possible audience, and I want to exploit the electronic medium (that I never had to build from scratch out of my pocket) that lets the widest possible audience obtain access to my products. That often means that my products then become exploitable by a wide number of people (say, 3D video game assets including geometry and pixels and motion data and game code, which were produced by me at great expense, but are nearly free for somebody else to exploit, citing fair use). If my work doesn’t get out there, nobody can steal it, but then, nobody can see it and I might as well have never done it either. If I want to create a cartoon-character-based franchise, I want to exploit it until my heirs have outlived me by 75 years before any old hack can exploit my creation, unless I’m Disney, and I’ll want copyright to extend into perpetuity based on the number of years since the debut of Steamboat Willy, plus one year. The creators of Mickey and the Air Pirates and other culture jammers have a different perspective. Why should they, and their pals from Negativland, be prevented from exploring the proposition that copyright violation is your best entertainment value? What’s fair use? What will the courts decide? Why do the lawyers get all the hypothetical money? Is it because they’re libertarians? As Yul Brynner said, “It’s a puzzlement.”

  565. #567 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    Walton’s “principles” dictate that in that situation, the hoarder has every right to let others starve.

    Yes, he does.

    I’m not saying he would be morally justified in doing so – the parable of Dives and Lazarus comes to mind – but I don’t believe he should be forcibly deprived of his property, even in order to feed the starving. If I, with my own labour and capital and on my own land, grow food for my own benefit, why should I be required to share it with someone else who has not contributed to it all? One of the foundations of libertarianism is recognising the qualitative difference between the statements “X ought to do this” and “X should be forced to do this by State coercion”.

  566. #568 Ken Cope
    February 3, 2009

    Walton, fuck bible parables. Parables don’t pay the rent or put food on the table. I’ve been offered crappy parables in lieu of equal pay for equal work in my misspent youth while trying to accrue experience more than once. Once upon a time, at nearly the same instant that I was being presented with a handsome, suitable for framing certificate, entitling me to 7/10s of one percent of the profits from a movie that had had its profits signed away six months earlier in exchange for a completion bond by my Mormon employer, that smarm merchant cited the story of the Little Red Hen in order to urge me and my co-workers all to draw faster for less money.

    Look, I can understand where the Little Red Hen was coming from. And I must say, her only slightly-less-entrepeneurial associates thought she was delicious between two slices of freshly baked bread, especially after she tried to tell us that we hadn’t made all the sensible investments she had, and since our work wasn’t worth as much as hers, we were entitled only to crumbs.

    The tricky thing about parables is the question of who gets to survive to ponder their moral significance.

  567. #569 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    Actually, Ken Cope, the parable supports your viewpoint, not mine. (Dives was a rich man who refused to share his food with Lazarus, a beggar, who starved to death. Dives then went to hell after he died.) So I wasn’t trying to justify my own view using parables.

    But now you mention it, the Little Red Hen is, indeed, a much better demonstration of the point I was making. A person who invests labour and capital in producing something should be under no obligation to share it with others who haven’t contributed.

  568. #570 Ken Cope
    February 3, 2009

    How nice for Lazarus that he gets to starve to death imagining that the asshole who could have prevented his death dies fat and rich years later, but goes to an imaginary torture den forever and ever, especially since the social order never changes; rich people will still die fat while beggars starve, but there will be justice by and by. Praise Jeebus!

    I’m trying to imagine why people are under any obligation to abstain from eating people who manipulate parables to preserve the social order that makes the rich fat and the poor starve. OK, figuratively. Because, while there may be plenty of good eating on the metaphorically rich, for the most part, I’d rather starve than survive that way.

  569. #571 Ken Cope
    February 3, 2009

    And since my name is Lazarus, if I starve to death, Jesus will make me rise up again from the dead! What a great con! We can go from town to town, me “dying” and Jesus “resurrecting” me, and the marks will fall all over themselves to feed us! What a grift!

  570. #572 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 3, 2009

    I’m not saying he would be morally justified in doing so

    But it would be in keeping with the “principles” on which your dystopia would be based.

    but I don’t believe he should be forcibly deprived of his property, even in order to feed the starving. If I, with my own labour and capital and on my own land, grow food for my own benefit, why should I be required to share it with someone else who has not contributed to it all?

    (Says someone who’s probably never grown a fucking tomato or picked a single bean in his privileged little life.) Yeah! Fuck you, babies, children, sick people, disabled veterans, elderly,… ya unproductive gits! Fend for yourselves! It’s mine! Mine, mine, mine! This is the new “natural” justice, aka I got mine, now you try to get yours!

    I hate to break it to you nitwits, but if this were really how human communities (especially “frontier” communities) had really functioned throughout history, we would not be here.

    Stop abstracting! …And read the book by Mike Davis.

  571. #573 Africangenesis
    February 3, 2009

    KG,

    I am interested enough to explore some of the nuances and implications, and the actual differences in practice.

    You mention worker cooperatives, but not consumer cooperatives. Is it your intent to grant workers more power to optimize their more local concentrated interests at the expense of more diffusely distributed consumers?

    Do you have a sense of what would be the “major” means of production, distribution and exchange in today’s less industrialized society, and what might remain in private hands?

    I wonder if you might be under estimating the democratic elements of a market system that in a sense “voted” to give say the Beatles more capital than the Monkeys. Now I don’t imagine that ability to make music is necessarily the best way to choose your managers of capital, but those “votes” perhaps also meant something about granting more “power” perhaps to the social message of the Beatles.

    I also wonder if there is any pattern to be seen in contrasting the type of managers of capital and enterprises chosen in the current system with the type of managers chosen perhaps more democratically by labor unions. Do the latter have the right skill set? Do they balance wider societal interests? If their constituency is from workers below, will they serve the consumer and society as well as the current system does? Would it be legal for unions to strike as part of the “negotiations” you mentioned?

    One thing I want to think more about is where the concentations of capital end up on your schema. Large enterprises do generally need more capital for long term projects. I’m wonder if that capital will end up in the same or different places. I wonder whether the new mangement system will be as environmentally conscious as the current one, especially if there is more input from the extremely poor of the world.

    I wonder if you might be assuming that private concentrations of wealth are less efficient and more socially negative than they would be if the managers are chosen different. What is the social detriment if someone who is good at managing capital to generate high returns, accumulates more capital, much more capital than any one person “deserves”, especially since it was socially generated. Unless that person purchases tremendous amounts of land, there is no way he can personally hope to consume more than a fraction of a fraction of a percent. All that person can really do with that capital is to continue to manage it well, or if he manages it poorly it will erode into the hands of better managers. Is this manager being a parasite on the poor of society by being one of their best managers for a fraction of a fraction of a percent? In a large organization, this person might be managing other peoples money or societies money. But this person might be percieved as getting too high a salary and bonuses. What are the implications of this unequal distribution? If those bonus are more than could ever be consumed, then that money will just be managed, presumably for high returns as well. Resources managed by the best managers does not seem a bad plan. Perhaps a competitive meritocracy would out perform a democratically and hierarchically “negotiated” plan. Perhaps a system responsive to consumer dollars outperforms a system responsive to consumer votes.

  572. #574 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    SC: (Says someone who’s probably never grown a fucking tomato or picked a single bean in his privileged little life.) Yeah! Fuck you, babies, children, sick people, disabled veterans, elderly,… ya unproductive gits! Fend for yourselves! It’s mine! Mine, mine, mine! This is the new “natural” justice, aka I got mine, now you try to get yours!

    SC, you really make me sound like a complete bastard. Your comments remind me of the Facebook group “I’ve never met a poor libertarian. Have you?”

    In actual fact, however, this thesis is only sustainable if you don’t know any libertarians. I am not rich, nor am I from an especially privileged background. I went to a state school. Nor do I expect, or intend, to achieve great wealth in my life.

    I am not a Randian Objectivist; I don’t reject the moral value of altruism, nor do I argue that each person should live only for his or her own benefit. I do, indeed, think that we owe a moral duty to care for children, the elderly, the disabled, and others who, through no fault of their own, are not economically productive. Ideally this should be done by families and private charities, but if all else fails I am perfectly happy for the State to step in. I’m not on the doctrinaire wing of the libertarian movement, though I have friends who are.

    What I do not believe, however, is that those people who can be economically productive, but would rather not be, should be subsidised at the expense of their more productive neighbours.

    For example: like I said, I, personally, am never going to be rich. Unlike my peers I don’t intend to go into commercial legal practice, and am hoping instead to become a political commentator or theorist of some description. That’s my choice; I’ve chosen not to be as economically productive as I could be, and in a free market I won’t get rich. Do I have a right, then, to expect to be subsidised by my neighbours who achieve more than I do?

    (Indeed, at the risk of pissing off most people in this forum, it’s academics and students who are most guilty in this regard. Taking a step back, one has to question why taxpayers’ money should be spent on subsidising the study of post-structuralist literary critical analysis of Dickens, and the like. I have no problem with people choosing to spend their time in such endeavours, or indeed in anything else that takes their fancy; but I would question whether it’s justified to extract wealth coercively from the productive working population in order to fund it.)

  573. #575 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    Effectively all wealth is socially generated; the absolute property rights assumed by “libertarianism” have no moral justification.

    Absolute fucking bullshit. How can any sane person assert that “all wealth is socially generated”? For a start, “society” is not a discrete entity capable of producing anything. It is an abstract term we use to refer to a particular phenomenon (namely, the mass of human individuals and the complex web of interlocking relationships between them”.

    And as I keep trying to point out, if I take raw materials and invest my time and labour making them into something useful – thereby increasing their value – I have created that wealth. If I take wheat, yeast and water worth $2 and make them into a loaf of bread worth $3, I have created $1 worth of wealth. It is not “society” that has created that $1. It is me, through my own investment of skill, effort and time.

  574. #576 Bobber
    February 3, 2009

    Human beings do not exist in isolation, with the sole exception of Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” – and even he had to fabricate a companion to keep even a scrap of his sanity intact.

    How can any sane person assert that “all wealth is socially generated”? For a start, “society” is not a discrete entity capable of producing anything. It is an abstract term we use to refer to a particular phenomenon (namely, the mass of human individuals and the complex web of interlocking relationships between them”.

    While many individuals in a society may not have a direct role in a single individual manufacturing something, “society” usually does have an indirect role. For example, I may establish a corporation that manufactures chairs. From where do I obtain my lumber? Nails and screws? The laborers who allow me to expand my production? The buildings that house my equipment? The food that sustains not only myself, but my workers? Who allows for the creation of a corporation in the first place? In whose minds were the legal protections and limitations created? Which town will allow my buildings to be erected? If I am to employ skilled craftspeople, it is to my benefit to have workers who are well-educated – where will that happen, and who will pay for it? And so on, and so forth…

    Human societies are intricate webs of relationships and interdependence, not all of it obvious and direct. It is my standard response to libertarians as to why taxes are necessary: you are a member of a civilization, which you may consider a club. You want membership in the club, you pay your club dues. No dues, no club – and you are reduced to barbarism. If civilization was a bad thing, we’d still be stuck with Neolithic technology and social systems.

    It’s not individual initiative alone that has produced the modern golden age of wealth and health. It is the social milieux that allows individual initiative to exist – communal action and approval that allows for individuals to contribute (note: not TAKE FROM) society.

  575. #577 MartinM
    February 3, 2009

    If I take wheat, yeast and water worth $2 and make them into a loaf of bread worth $3, I have created $1 worth of wealth. It is not “society” that has created that $1. It is me, through my own investment of skill, effort and time.

    Right, because you were born with the knowledge of how to make bread.

  576. #578 Bobber
    February 3, 2009

    MartinM said what I did, in one sentence. : ) Salut!

  577. #579 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    The question isn’t about the morality of the individual. Individuals can be cruel, wicked people.

    The question is about the morality of government. Should government be permitted to murder some of its citizens in order to feed others? I contend that this is wrong. Some of you will object to the strength of the term ‘murder’ but that’s exactly what it is.

    In your zeal to paint an individual as evil for not sharing food with his fellow man, you reject what got him there. There’s no such thing as luck. The rich are not lottery winners whose only contribution to society was the dollar that bought the winning ticket. They’re at the pinnacle of the market because they moved mountains to get where they are, and in turn helped the rest of us.

    Very few get there by deceit (fraud) and we should expect them to face the consequences of the law for it.

    You need to get over your envy for your fellow man. Bill Gates didn’t get rich by sitting around doing nothing. He created a product which builds wealth, and millions of IT workers owe jobs to his work, inside Microsoft and out. His product increases the efficiency of many kinds of business, surely more than he ever imagined would be using it someday, and that additional efficiency fuels their ability to provide you more jobs in your place of business. On top of it all, most of his “wealth” is stock — invested back into the entire system to keep it running, fueling growth in a huge market, and he has vast philanthropic interests to boot.

    Some of you simply need to stop viewing the world as if everything in it has been taken from you. Yes, we vaunt a few individuals, but it’s for very good reason. They build wealth for the rest of us.

    Given the choice, would you give a proportionate amount of resorces to a majorly stupid populace, or would you invest more resources in a few individuals who know best how to leverage those resources so that we all get more out of them?

    Would you give me $100 dollars if you knew that in a month I’d turn it into to $500 dollars, and keep $100 of that for myself (making me very wealthy, having done the same for many people) or would you give $50 to your neighbor and starve together? Ever seeking a utopian idea of “equality” some of you would die over the principle, rather than end up with $400 to split between you and your starving neighbor out of your own charity. You’d be pissed that I kept 1/5 of what I earned off of your investment and elect to die (and kill your neighbor too) on that misguided principle. We are not all equal in our capabilities, and no amount of denial of that on your part will change it.

    This is the crux of the matter, this is the entire debate between socialism and capitalism.

    If you must persist in this absurd notion that one person is hoarding all of the food, consider this: most of the elemental nitrogen in your body, as you sit there breathing, came from a Bosch/Haber plant. Without that innovation, many of us would be starving, worldwide. We owe our very lives to the innovation of industry.

  578. #580 Bobber
    February 3, 2009

    There’s no such thing as luck. The rich are not lottery winners whose only contribution to society was the dollar that bought the winning ticket. They’re at the pinnacle of the market because they moved mountains to get where they are, and in turn helped the rest of us.

    That’s right. George W. Bush got to where he was in the business, and then political world, because he possesses “rare skills” – not because he was born into wealth and privilege. And goodness, people aren’t allowed into elite, ivy league colleges because of their name – there’s no such thing as a “legacy”, right?

    The real world is not completely a meritocracy. If you deny that unearned status and privilege exist, and that this is a bad thing, then you live in an dream world.

  579. #581 Africangenesis
    February 3, 2009

    Bush was elected. His business career was dependent upon political influence. Why should this be a reason not to improve the worlds efficiency by removing government as much as possible from economic decision making?

  580. #582 Bobber
    February 3, 2009

    Bush was elected.

    False.

    His business career was dependent upon political influence.

    True, as is the reverse.

    Why should this be a reason not to improve the worlds efficiency by removing government as much as possible from economic decision making?

    Why should this be a reason not to improve the status of the masses by removing economic influence as much as possible from governmental decision making?

  581. #583 Africangenesis
    February 3, 2009

    Government doesn’t want economic influence removed, it milks business with threats of regulation for as much as it can get. Democrats threaten to regulate, Republicans claim to fight the regulation, the stalemate works to the advantage of both as the campaign contributions poor in.

    The strange thing is, before the recent crisis it was Republicans trying to regulate FANNIE and FREDDIE and the Democrats resisting.

  582. #584 Ken Cope
    February 3, 2009

    Bush was elected.

    You really are a troll, aren’t you?

    Why should this be a reason not to improve the worlds efficiency by removing government as much as possible from economic decision making?

    They aren’t the government, we are the government. That collective bargaining pisses you off just makes it that much more satisfying.

  583. #585 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Bobber (#583)

    You’re starting to sound like a Libertarian. ;)

    How better to limit that incentive than to severely restrict the growth and scope of government? Give them the power to change the social order and tranfer wealth, and where do you think it will end up? Who stands to gain from the massive debt our government is selling right now to prop up the economy? Surely nobody would buy that debt without expecting a return on investment…

    It looks like it’s being spent to help the masses, but it’s just taking productive money out of society and funneling it to friends of the elected.

  584. #586 Bill Dauphin
    February 3, 2009

    Martin:

    If I take wheat, yeast and water worth $2 and make them into a loaf of bread worth $3, I have created $1 worth of wealth. It is not “society” that has created that $1. It is me, through my own investment of skill, effort and time.

    Right, because you were born with the knowledge of how to make bread.

    Not only that, but Walton no doubt was magically able to obtain the wheat, yeast, and water without recourse to any common public infrastructure (e.g., roads, water distribution systems, electricity or gas for his ovens, etc.), and was able to pay those affordable prices solely due to the entirely voluntary beneficence of his suppliers.

    Walton, what you’re missing is how thoroughly interdependent we all are… and dependence on others without some moderating collective structure will lead inevitably to a world full of bilateral relationships based solely on power imbalance. That’s fine, I suppose, if you happen to be one of the strong ones… but by definition, half of everybody is not the strong one in any given bilateral relationship, and most of us will not be “the strong one” in the majority of our relationships.

    And I hate to tell you this, but whether (and when) you’re “the strong one” depends on quite a few other things besides personal merit. Your lack of consideration for the weakest among us will bite you in the ass… because there’s every reason to believe that one day, in one way or another, each of us will be “the weakest among us.”

  585. #587 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    There’s no such thing as luck.

    No, but there are such things as flood, drought, disease, war…

    The rich are not lottery winners whose only contribution to society was the dollar that bought the winning ticket.

    …and inheritance.

  586. #588 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Wathchman (#588)

    And does any of that qualify as the norm? I believe you’re assigning undue weight to statistical outliers.

  587. #589 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 3, 2009

    I won’t have time to post anything substantive, I don’t think, till tonight. Too busy teaching about stupid nonsense like the Tuskegee syphilis study, research ethics (irrelevant to propertarians, of course, since empirical investigation is their kryptonite), or human cultures. Such self-indulgence on all our parts – none of it’s going to help my students to be active participants in democratic society. Oh, well – we can’t all be selfless or noble enough to dedicate ourselves to being oblivious gasbag propagandists for the ruling class. And they pay me the big bucks. Why, my present salary gives me the glorious freedom to choose between heat and health insurance. So many rights, so many options…

  588. #590 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    Ward:

    I believe you’re assigning undue weight to statistical outliers.

    Perhaps, but you’ve apparently decided that they don’t exist. The claim that there’s not such thing as luck in the context of this discussion is simply false. Many people have been ruined by bad luck. I’m not claiming that these unfortunately consist any kind of statistically significant majority. Nor should I have to: whether or not that’s “the norm” is beside the point. Similarly, there are quite a few rich folk who were “lucky” enough to have been born into extremely favorable circumstances and who haven’t worked all that hard to get where they are. Not that that particularly bothers me. Just sayin’.

    You need to get over your envy for your fellow man.

    Wow, that one’s right out the right-wing conservative phrasebook! Blech. Why does it always come down to the assumption of envy? Why do right-wingers (and, it seems, right-leaning Libertarians) so often assume that people like Bobber and me want something for ourselves? Could it be analogous to the reason why dogmatic theists so often claim that atheists must worship something? Because self-interest amongst the “government is evil” crowd is vaguely analogous to god-belief amongst the religious crowd? Because they can’t imagine selflessness any more than the terminally pious can imagine godlessness?

    Say it ain’t so.

  589. #591 Bobber
    February 3, 2009

    Why do right-wingers (and, it seems, right-leaning Libertarians) so often assume that people like Bobber and me want something for ourselves?

    You know, I never really caught that. Why is it envy on my part to want people who have more recognize their responsibility to people who have less? Where is this assumption that *I* want what someone else has? Now, I have been accused of being a thief for my views, but that’s in the Robin Hood-mode.

    To echo SC: Until recently I was a teacher in a public school. While I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, the wage I was paid enabled me to live just below the poverty line – I was shocked to learn that despite my (more than) full time job (any teacher will tell you that they put in far more than 40 hours of work into a week) with benefits, that my daughter qualified for state health insurance for the poor.

    Again: I’ve spent half my working life in the corporate world, the other half in human services and education. No one will convince me that a clerk who wrote 510k submissions for a medical device manufacturing company (which I was) should earn more than a teacher (which I was). Our priorites need to switch from what makes a company money to what enhances human potential. (And don’t for a minute believe that the higher-ups in that medical device company were in the business for humanitarian reasons.)

  590. #592 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009
    Effectively all wealth is socially generated; the absolute property rights assumed by “libertarianism” have no moral justification. – Me

    Absolute fucking bullshit. How can any sane person assert that “all wealth is socially generated”? For a start, “society” is not a discrete entity capable of producing anything. It is an abstract term we use to refer to a particular phenomenon (namely, the mass of human individuals and the complex web of interlocking relationships between them”.

    And as I keep trying to point out, if I take raw materials and invest my time and labour making them into something useful – thereby increasing their value – I have created that wealth. – Walton

    No, Walton, as usual it’s you who is coming out with the absolute fucking bullshit. Others have already noted this. I’ll just note in addition that what I said in no way implies that society is a person or does anything; “socially generated” simply means that many people, over a considerable span of time, contributed both to the infrastructure that makes any productive work possible, and even more fundamentally, to the knowledge we all gain from others over the course of our lives. Really, I don’t think you’re naturally callous and stupid – it’s your callous and stupid ideology that is making you so.

  591. #593 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    One of the foundations of libertarianism is recognising the qualitative difference between the statements “X ought to do this” and “X should be forced to do this by State coercion”. – Walton

    You really do come across as a halfwit sometimes. I can hardly conceive of anyone who would disagree that there is indeed such a difference, even among Stalinists, fascists or theocrats: where we differ is in what should go in which category.

    By your lights, the state should not only not commandeer and distribute the hoarder’s food, but should prevent the starving taking it. We really have come here to the evil at the heart of “libertarianism”; I am thoroughly confirmed in my loathing and contempt for it and its proponents.

  592. #594 Kmockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    Africangenesis@574,
    I’ll respond when I’ve more time – possibly later today, possibly tomorrow.

  593. #595 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Perhaps, but you’ve apparently decided that they don’t exist. The claim that there’s not such thing as luck in the context of this discussion is simply false.

    Because I don’t waste my time focusing on insignificant outliers?

    Many people have been ruined by bad luck.

    Wrong. Most been ruined by taking too much risk and improper planning. Few have been ruined by unpredictable trauma. You’re telling me that you believe that a person comes to harm in a vehicular accident purely by accident? Isn’t that denying that they took a great risk upon themselves the moment they elected to drive one? You’ve surely seen the statistics on accidental vehicular deaths. Logic would make us conclude that nobody should get into those death traps, but the convenience is worth the risk to us nonetheless.

    We synthesize that trend into our lives and freak out about terrorists instead, the statistical outlier. Worse yet, we deny that we are doing it when confronted with the inanity of it all.

    Wow, that one’s right out the right-wing conservative phrasebook! Blech. Why does it always come down to the assumption of envy? Why do right-wingers (and, it seems, right-leaning Libertarians) so often assume that people like Bobber and me want something for ourselves?

    By focusing on the outliers more than the trend you reveal your motives to be that of envy. By blubbering “but look at Bush, he’s rich through inheritance” you distance yourself from the truth that he is an outlier, not the trend.

    You guys have become so saturated by the news that you accept that the news is reality. The news tells you, by definition, about things that almost never happen.

    You’ll sell every civil liberty you have for economic equality you’ll never get and you’ll deny to yourself that you are doing it. You’ll deny the cycle that you’re doing it a little at a time rather than all at once ? as if allowing yourself to be slowly and inexorably hit in the head with a hammer won’t end up in a pile of mush with any more certainty than if you just took one good whack. You’ll sell out the futures of your grandchildren, endebting them even before conception, making them a slave to a system they did not create, for the promise of a little economic stability now, which you won’t get. You’ll wholeheartedly consent to theft from others, under the delusion that, because the government is doing it, it magically ceases to be theft.

    You’ll tell yourself that, because you elect them, government has your best interests at heart, that they could never seek to enrich themselves and their friends to your detriment. You’ve magically sprinkled the dust of nobility onto politicians, assigning to them powers of moral rectitude and an almost deific prescience.

    You wonder aloud why your politics are compared to religion, but ignore all of the obvious signs. You go to the polls and punch your “D” like the rest, more often than not. You have undying faith in the efficacy of Keynesian economic policies, despite all the evidence to the contrary. They were taught to you, no doubt, by a public education, one which ? on economic and social policy ? overwhelmingly looks like Sunday school to outside observers.

    You hang on the words of your elected leaders ? just as those who punched “R” hang on the words of theirs ? when you should be questioning their logic and motives at every step and taking back ground when it’s discovered they are wrong. You perpetually lose ground because you have not the spine to pull on your end of the rope in the tug-of-war over who owns your freedom. Who is it? You, or your government?

    Your religion shows up in your ritual, and you cannot deny your rituals and stay honest about it. I fully understand my rituals, the principles to which I am devoted. I see the flaws in them, and permit other solutions where they fail. Did you miss where I said I supported some social welfare?

    You, sir, are looking at the mote in my eye while utterly ignoring the beam in yours.

    I mean none of this to be taken as offense, and I apologize if that’s the outcome.

  594. #596 Kmockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    Africangenesis@574,
    I’ll respond when I’ve more time – possibly later today, possibly tomorrow.

  595. #597 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    You’re telling me that you believe that a person comes to harm in a vehicular accident purely by accident? Isn’t that denying that they took a great risk upon themselves the moment they elected to drive one? – Ward S. Denker

    Good grief what a fucking moron. A large percentage of those killed in such accidents are p-e-d-e-s-t-r-i-a-n-s.

  596. #598 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    I was talking rather specifically about the risk of getting into a car, not the risk of walking around where cars are at, you disingenuous fuckwit.

    2007 Traffic Accident Statistics

    The numbers say:

    Type, number, % of total
    Vehicle, 28,933, 71.8993
    Motorcycle, 5,154, 12.8078
    Pedestrian, 4,654, 11.5653
    Bicyclist, 698, 1.7345
    Large Truck, 802, 1.9930

    So, 71.9% are vehicular accidents. Only 11.7% involve pedestrians, that’s 88.4% which unequivocally don’t involve pedestrians.

    By bringing it up at all you are attempting to lie with statistics, assigning undue weight to the outliers off the trend, just as I said you were doing. I talk about the trend, you talk about the outliers. That was the whole damned point, thanks for proving it for me.

    Q.E.D.

    Pull your head out of your ass and stop lying to yourself and others you fucking nimrod.

  597. #599 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    Why do right-wingers (and, it seems, right-leaning Libertarians) so often assume that people like Bobber and me want something for ourselves? Could it be analogous to the reason why dogmatic theists so often claim that atheists must worship something? Because self-interest amongst the “government is evil” crowd is vaguely analogous to god-belief amongst the religious crowd? Because they can’t imagine selflessness any more than the terminally pious can imagine godlessness?

    On the contrary. It is we who can imagine selflessness, and who believe that selflessness will occur without state coercion.

    And the policies I advocate would not benefit me personally in the slightest. I’m a student. Since I am a British national and attend a British university, my tuition fees are capped by law at £3,000 per annum (whereas the actual cost to the university of providing tuition is closer to £12,000 per annum). I also get an artificially-low-interest government student loan to cover my living expenses.

    I believe both these things to be thoroughly unjustifiable. Higher education is not a right; it’s an investment in one’s future. If an individual decides it’s worth making that investment, s/he should be prepared to pay for it, and to borrow money – at commercial interest rates – to do so, rather than being supported at the expense of his peers who choose to go out to work.

    I mention this not because I want to have a debate about higher education funding, but because I want to point out that if the policies I advocate were implemented in the UK right now, I would personally suffer economically. Yet I cannot do otherwise than advocate what I believe, objectively, to be morally and economically right.

  598. #600 Knockgoats
    February 3, 2009

    I was talking rather specifically about the risk of getting into a car, not the risk of walking around where cars are at, you disingenuous fuckwit. Ward S. Denker

    In the context of your ludicrous claim that “Few have been ruined by unpredictable trauma.”, and the quite staggeringly, unbelieveably, mindbendingly stupid claim that “There’s no such thing as luck.”, shit-for-brains.

  599. #601 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    Walton:

    On the contrary. It is we who can imagine selflessness, and who believe that selflessness will occur without state coercion.

    Good answer, Walton. You’re right – it will occur. But history has shown, time and time again, that voluntary philanthropy alone has never been up to the task. Ever read any Dickens? Hugo?

    More to the point, why do you think certain laws and institutions exist? Why?

    Why are their anti-trust laws? Why does the EPA exist? Why is there Social Security? Why do state-funded health care and unemployment insurance agencies exist? Because we’ve already seen what society looks like without them.

    Ward: That’s a lot to chew on. Give me a few minutes. ;-)

  600. #602 Endor
    February 3, 2009

    “But history has shown, time and time again, that voluntary philanthropy alone has never been up to the task.”

    Oh, but that only hurts women, children and all those lazy non-white people. Who cares about them? Walton’s money is more important than those silly non-people.

  601. #603 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Knockgoats,(#601)

    In the context of your ludicrous claim that “Few have been ruined by unpredictable trauma.”, and the quite staggeringly, unbelieveably, mindbendingly stupid claim that “There’s no such thing as luck.”, shit-for-brains.

    And that was in the context of everyday risk of driving vehicles.

    The census bureau estimates the population of the United States to be 301,290,332 in 2007.

    You’re claiming that pedestrians didn’t take on any risk of dying in an auto accident (i.e.) unpredictable trauma.

    Even if you were making the claim that every one of those cases did not arise out of negligence on the part of the pedestrian (and that’s a shaky assertion because surely some of those died doing something their mother probably would have paddled them for as a child), that still accounts for 0.001545% of the population that died.

    I think that qualifies as “few” no matter what fuckwit contorted logic you can apply to it. Why don’t you concede defeat now and save yourself the embarrassment of digging further in on your pit of abject stupidity.

  602. #604 Walton
    February 3, 2009

    Oh, but that only hurts women, children and all those lazy non-white people. Who cares about them? Walton’s money is more important than those silly non-people.

    Please read the remainder of my post at #600. I personally stand to lose, economically, if my ideas were implemented.

  603. #605 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Watchman (#602)

    Ever read any Dickens?

    Oh come on, you have to realize how silly this is. Where were the huge multi-national charities in Dickens’ time? Where was instant access to information? Where were the instant payment systems which could take money you’ve made and send it around the world in the blink of an eye?

    It would have been easy to ignore poverty in Dickens’ time, far easier than today, on the account of lack of information alone.

  604. #606 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Knockgoats,(#601)

    And, by supporting the notion that there really is such a thing as “luck” you’re basically asserting that all pursuit of science is wrong, dumbass.

    Believing in luck is believing that, given enough information, there are things which still cannot be predicted. That is bordering on religious belief.

    It’s imminently predictable that if you walk down the street and you don’t pay attention to what’s going on, you could be hit by a car. You don’t even need to have an understanding of quantum theory to figure that out.

  605. #607 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    Ward: Good points about the multi-national charities and all, I suppose, but I’m not so sure that last claim is true. It’s much easier to ignore now. Back then, it clutched at your ankles as you walked through the streets. Kinda difficult to prove either way, though, I admit. I suggest we not get bogged down in this particular point, unless you think it’s important. It’s my fault that I neglected to mention Upton Sinclair. ;-)

    So. You advocate theft in some instances. Which instances are those? Which state-funded social welfare programs do you support, and why? Which can we do without now, here in the modern age?

  606. #608 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#608)

    There are people devoted to caring, whole organizations built on it. There are walks to raise breast cancer awareness, something which never happened in either Dickens’ or Sinclair’s time. We have more access to information now than we’ve ever had in human history, which kind of goes without saying, but it bears mentioning.

    So. You advocate theft in some instances. Which instances are those? Which state-funded social welfare programs do you support, and why? Which can we do without now, here in the modern age?

    I do, a broad definition of theft surely makes it exactly true to someone. SCHIP is one I actually support, because I believe children should not be punished for the incapacity of their parents to provide medical care for them. They’re not capable of joining society by working in the market. I’m also not against society taking care of people who have no ability to work a trade or care for themselves (mental and physical handicaps).

    I also believe we have a right to education, but I support methods that promote market alternatives (vouchers) because they increase competition, which can only strengthen the quality of the public education system. This is out of self-interest and out of societal interest at the same time. An ignorant society is not a free society, but one easily subjugated to the will of others (personal, corporate, governmental, religious, or what have you).

    KnockGoats is giving us copious examples of the need to improve education. ;)

  607. #609 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    Hmmm. I wonder if we can use quantum theory to predict, with utter certainty, the location of both electrons in a helium atom?

    There is an operational definition of “luck”. Yes, given enough information, one could predict where the ball will fall in the roulette wheel. Sure, the process is deterministic, but who has access to the information required to make an accurate prediction of where that ball will fall? Nobody. Ever. Not everything, in practice, can be predicted.

    With that said, it is true that many misfortunes can be avoided (and/or ameliorated) given sufficient foresight and preparation. But not always. There is such a thing as misfortune. Some choose to call it bad luck.

    Are these unfortunates the statistical outliers? Perhaps. But so what? Are they less real? Less important? Less worthy of assistance? I’m not sure how it bolsters your point to insist that misfortune does not exist.

  608. #610 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Watchman(#610)

    Hmmm. I wonder if we can use quantum theory to predict, with utter certainty, the location of both electrons in a helium atom?

    Ah, Heisenberg.

    I am not asserting that everything is predictable, I’m asserting that the information exists. We know the electrons are there, and we know the probabilities of where they’ll be (Schroedinger and others), but we must not come to the logical conclusion that the electrons do not exist because we cannot predict their locations exactly. The information is there, regardless of our capacity to access it. A notion of “luck” denies that we’d be able to deduce the shape of their orbits, probability of location and nodal surfaces at all. It’s the scientific equivalent of the concesson of defeat.

    Are these unfortunates the statistical outliers? Perhaps. But so what? Are they less real? Less important? Less worthy of assistance? I’m not sure how it bolsters your point to insist that misfortune does not exist.

    It doesn’t harm my case either. The point is, a vast majority of the cases we’d all call “economic misfortune” come about from deterministic causes. Education eradicates these by and large, not redistribution of wealth. It’s the non-deterministic cases which I must agree need help. One cannot pick one’s parents, genetics, or capacity to labor for society.

  609. #611 Watchman
    February 3, 2009

    Ward, I think your #609 kinda answered my #610. Perhaps #610 is trying to keep a trivial point alive. I’m falling behind again here, late in the day, as I did yesterday. Apologies. Anyway, re: your #609, it looks as if we have nothing to argue about there. (I’ll stay neutral on your opinion of Mr. Goats; he can surely fend for himself should you two decide to continue to slug it out.)

  610. #612 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re:Watchman (#612)

    I’ll stay neutral on your opinion of Mr. Goats; he can surely fend for himself should you two decide to continue to slug it out.

    To be honest, I have asked repeatedly that he stop and that we cease these pointless personal attacks. He persists, and round we go.

    I extend that offer, yet again. I’ve had no cause to attack quite a few people, so that should illustrate my good faith on this matter.

    I’ve enjoyed these pleasant conversations, so thank you all who have provided them.

  611. #613 Ward S. Denker
    February 3, 2009

    Re: Watchman (#608)

    I’m not so sure that last claim is true. It’s much easier to ignore now. Back then, it clutched at your ankles as you walked through the streets. Kinda difficult to prove either way, though, I admit.

    Not to belabor the point, but I was considering the historical setting and realized that there is evidence for my case. Historically, if one wanted to avoid the poor, one would create zoning laws and build walls around them (out of sight, out of mind). The poor sections would be ghettos and the nobility would live in their own area of town too, intentionally segregating themselves from the rest of society. Furthermore, one could travel through the seedier sections of town in a coach with the windows shuttered and send underlings to do things like collect the mail or purchase a newspaper.

    Some of those zoning laws are still on the books and some of the walls still in place in some areas of the world. Ghettos still exist, but we don’t wall them off like we used to, we just call them “the projects” instead. Finding a way to fight that kind of inequality, one which arises as a tyranny of the majority over the minority (colloquially, “class warfare”) would surely be a goal worth pursuing.

    The internet and prevalence of the media today has a reach without a peer in that time and I highly doubt that there are many who would consider their mansion complete without high speed internet access, if not for themselves but at least for their children. The problem posed for the philanthropist, rich or otherwise, is really “to whom should I give?” There are so many choices that it boggles the mind.

    Government’s support of the poor may well narrow that field, convincing many that no support is needed. It’s hard to quantify government spending ? it’s a huge bureaucracy, and one which seems to be particularly resistant to accounting for dollars spent. Sure, there are public records, but who out there is keeping accurate tabs on how much fraud these programs are subjected to? Ironically, they seem to protect their numbers like they’re state secrets because some of those numbers are state secrets and some numbers are intentionally vague ? refuges for fraud, waste and abuse.

    These, among many, are reasons I reject big government. Accountability goes down as the size increases. Externalities become unpleasant,and unavoidable, facts of life.

  612. #614 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Bobber:

    It sounds like you and I share the perspective of having worked both in public education and the white-collar private sector… although I gather you were a teacher more recently (and perhaps for longer) than I. I know you’ll agree, but just to put a finer point on this…

    any teacher will tell you that they put in far more than 40 hours of work into a week

    …I’ll go a step further and assert, based on my experience and observations, that teachers typically put in more total hours per calendar year than a salaried, 40 hr/wk white collar office worker in the private sector… even taking into account summer recess and holiday vacations. People discount the amount of work teachers do because so much of it takes place outside teachers’ publicly visible workday (which is to say, the school day). The work teachers do at home, often late into the night and frequently during those so-called vacations, isn’t similar to the “casual” overtime salaried office workers sometimes must do; it’s stuff — curriculum development, lesson planning, lesson prep, grading and student record-keeping, student and parent communication, remediation and extra help — that forms a fundamental, structural, continual part of the job.

    Oh, BTW, for those office workers among you who think you might put in as many hours as teachers, let me add another thing: You know how much more challenging and stressful it is to give a presentation than to simply sit at your desk working? Well, imagine if giving presentations (to roomsfull of surly and disaffected 13 year olds, no less!) were pretty much all you did, all day long… and then you had to get all your desk work done anyway, usually at home.

    [deep breath][/rant]

    Walton:

    Who cares about them? Walton’s money is more important than those silly non-people.

    Please read the remainder of my post at #600. I personally stand to lose, economically, if my ideas were implemented.

    That’s either incredibly stupid or incredibly disingenuous. The “hit” you might take on tuition if your ideas were implemented would be absolutely trivial in comparison to the huge advantage you would enjoy (and I would share, having been lucky enough to be born into relatively affluent middle-class circumstances) from defending the privileged position of the haves against the inconvenient needs of the have nots.

    Or should I say, the huge short-term advantage: Eventually, as the inequity between rich and poor grows more and more severe, and the poor are more and more numerous (and the middle class dwindles), even the wealthiest will no longer be immune to the fundamental disorder and chaos that will ensue. That’s my real problem with laissez faire worldviews: It’s not so much that they’re selfish — though they clearly are — as that they’re shortsighted. Even for the most remorselessly self-interested, egalitarian approaches to living will recommend themselves, if only the depth and scope of your vision of the world is large enough.

  613. #615 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 4, 2009

    The point is, a vast majority of the cases we’d all call “economic misfortune” come about from deterministic causes. Education eradicates these by and large, not redistribution of wealth. It’s the non-deterministic cases which I must agree need help. One cannot pick one’s parents, genetics, or capacity to labor for society.

    What exactly do you mean by this? What evidence are you offering to support your claims?

    Oh come on, you have to realize how silly this is. Where were the huge multi-national charities in Dickens’ time? Where was instant access to information? Where were the instant payment systems which could take money you’ve made and send it around the world in the blink of an eye?

    It would have been easy to ignore poverty in Dickens’ time, far easier than today, on the account of lack of information alone.

    How ridiculous. We’re talking about poverty that existed one street or one neighborhood away from from the very wealthy. For more bout this, see Engels’ underappreciated The Condition of the Working Class in England. (For the conditions of people elsewhere in the empire, the publicity about it, the organizations trying to allevate it and the challenges they faced from the free-marketeers, see the Davis book I mentioned above.) What is the basis for the argument that these conditions resulted from a lack of information or charity infrastructure, especially considering the evidence against this view?

    The internet and prevalence of the media today has a reach without a peer in that time and I highly doubt that there are many who would consider their mansion complete without high speed internet access, if not for themselves but at least for their children. The problem posed for the philanthropist, rich or otherwise, is really “to whom should I give?” There are so many choices that it boggles the mind.

    Government’s support of the poor may well narrow that field, convincing many that no support is needed.

    The point was that private charity has never done the job and never will, you moron. All evidence, historical and cross-national, points to the fact that counties that do not leave it to the “market” or private charity have lower rates of poverty and higher rates of well-being (not to mention productivity). I’ve seen no evidence that government funding suppresses charitable giving, or support for the notion that philanthropy could ever substitute for public policy. Here’s one recent article:

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/01/30-0

    Is the suggestion that as state governments cut back their (already meager) funding of these programs, charitable donations will meet these needs? When?

    Here’s some data on stratification, inequality, and mobility:

    http://extremeinequality.org/?page_id=8

    http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/tabfig_02.html

  614. #616 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Watchman:

    Are these unfortunates the statistical outliers? Perhaps. But so what? Are they less real? Less important? Less worthy of assistance? I’m not sure how it bolsters your point to insist that misfortune does not exist.

    I confess I haven’t been able to keep up with the flood of words in this thread, so rather than presuming to characterize Ward’s position per se I’ll just note that, in my experience, most people who argue against luck are arguing for the proposition that each and every individual is personally responsible for his or her own misfortune. This is really just a way of excusing one’s selfishness to oneself: If people all make their own “fortune,” then the misfortunate ones don’t deserve my help, because their situation is their own fault… and thus, I need not feel any guilt for not sharing my own good fortune.

    Recently, I’ve stopped arguing the point on those grounds. Instead, I insist that, given a properly expansive view of the world, we’re all better off living in a society with fewer poor people and less wealth inequity (or, in another arena, fewer sick people and less healthcare inequity)… regardless of who “deserves” what. IOW, if you can’t be generous because it’s morally correct, be generous because in the long run you’ll benefit.

    You don’t have to be a theist to believe in that bit about casting bread upon the waters. I find it odd that the political movements most closely allied with Christian theism seem least interested in that principle.

  615. #617 Walton
    February 4, 2009

    Bill Dauphin: That’s either incredibly stupid or incredibly disingenuous. The “hit” you might take on tuition if your ideas were implemented would be absolutely trivial in comparison to the huge advantage you would enjoy (and I would share, having been lucky enough to be born into relatively affluent middle-class circumstances) from defending the privileged position of the haves against the inconvenient needs of the have nots.

    The reason why, in a free society, there are – and will always be – “haves” and “have-nots” is because some people are simply more successful than others.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going to make the simplistic and rather silly assertion that “the poor deserve to be poor”. In most cases, they don’t; more often it’s a question of their having made the wrong choices in life, or simply having suffered bad luck. It’s dangerous to generalise, and I have no intention of doing so.

    However, I will point out that it is incredibly inefficient – for reasons which hardly need explaining – to subsidise the unsuccessful (regardless of the reason for their lack of success) at the expense of the successful. If someone, using his own capital and labour and taking risks, creates wealth, then that wealth ought to be his to keep. No one else has any claim on it. I realise this is highly contestable on moral grounds; but on practical grounds, redistributing wealth from those who create it to those who don’t establishes, automatically, a disincentive to the creation of wealth.

    And as to your allegations against my character; I am extremely unlikely ever to become one of the “haves”. I don’t have any highly marketable skills, and I don’t have the drive and motivation to make lots of money. And that illustrates my point perfectly. It would be, in fact, selfish of me to expect my peers, whose abilities, determination and luck have exceeded mine, to subsidise me, and to use State coercion to force them to do so whether they like it or not.

    That, in fact, is the most important point. In my proposed society, if you want to share all your wealth with the poor, and live communally, you have every right to choose to do so. No one’s stopping you. But what right have you got to force those who create wealth to subsidise you, whether they like it or not?

    As to your point about teachers: I have family members who are teachers, and yes, they do work very hard compared to their counterparts in many other professions. I have never claimed otherwise.

    I don’t quite understand, in fact, why you seem to think that libertarians are contemptuous of teachers, social workers and the like. We are not. We merely believe that education, and the efficiency thereof, can be improved if parents, rather than State bureaucrats, are given power over their children’s education – an empowerment which can be achieved through school vouchers and other forms of school choice. Education is a consumer service like any other. While education does have what Milton Friedman calls “neighbourhood effects” – thereby justifying some degree of State subsidy for education – there is no reason why it should be provided through a centralised, bureaucratic governmental framework.

  616. #618 Watchman
    February 4, 2009

    Walton:

    more often it’s a question of their having made the wrong choices in life, or simply having suffered bad luck.

    My man! :-D

    redistributing wealth from those who create it to those who don’t establishes, automatically, a disincentive to the creation of wealth.

    Only in the extreme, Walton. It seems that, once again, your dogma formula fails when filled with real-world parameters. If I were to make $200,000 next year, and the government “steals” 50% of it, I still have $100,000. Regardless of how unhappy I may be about that significant tax bite, explain to me how that regrettable state of affairs serves as an incentive for me to go back to grossing $48,000 per year?

  617. #619 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 4, 2009

    The reason why, in a free society,

    By ludicrous definitions of “free.”

    there are – and will always be – “haves” and “have-nots” is because some people are simply more successful than others.

    Bullshit. And with this absurdly facile formulation you’re completely ignoring changes or differences across countries in structures of stratification and inequality – differences in concentrations of wealth or levels of poverty or degrees of mobility.

    As C. Wright Mills noted in 1959, in distinguishing between personal troubles and social issues:

    Issues have to do with matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of her inner life. They have to do with the organization of many such milieu into the institutions of an historical society as a whole, with the ways in which various milieux overlap and interpenetrate to form the larger structure of social and historical life. An issue is a public matter: some value cherished by publics is felt to be threatened. Often there is a debate about what that value really is and about what it is that really threatens it. This debate is often without focus if only because it is the very nature of an issue, unlike even widespread trouble, that it cannot very well be defined in terms of the immediate and everyday environments of ordinary people. An issue, in fact, often involves a crisis in institutional arrangements, and often too it involves what Marxists call ‘contradictions’ or ‘antagonisms.’

    In these terms, consider unemployment. When, in a city of 100,000, only one is unemployed, that is his personal trouble, and for its relief we properly look to the character of the individual, his skills and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million people are unemployed, that is an issue, and we may not hope to find its solution within the range of opportunities open to any one individual. The very structure of opportunities has collapsed. Both the correct statement of the problem and the range of possible solutions require us to consider the economic and political institutions of the society, and not merely the personal situation and character of a scatter of individuals.

    http://www.lclark.edu/~goldman/socimagination.html

    And as to your allegations against my character; I am extremely unlikely ever to become one of the “haves”.

    Good fucking lord, Walton – you’re a white, male, British student at (IIRC) Oxford whose education is being subsidized by the government to the extent that you apparently don’t have to take some shit job to pay for it. Do you have any idea how much of a “have” this makes you? Clearly not. There are people wealthier than you (indeed, I went to a top prep school – on a scholarship – with some of the wealthiest people on the planet…many, but of course not all, of whom were complete bozos and screw-ups, by the way, which has not hurt them in the least). But you are among the most privileged people ever in the history of humanity. That privilege has been gained on the backs of millions of suffering people around the world, and you should never forget it.

    You suggest that if implemented your proposals would actually hurt you. Well, first, no one’s forcing you to take advantage of subsidies to which you morally object. You can always go out and work for your tuition and living expenses. Second, you know as well as anyone that your stupid proposals will not be implemented anytime soon enough to affect your prospects (hopefully never, as the value in every sense to a society of providing education to its young people has been demonstrated over and over, as Bill notes). This doesn’t make you more moral or consistent. It makes you a hypocrite.

  618. #620 Walton
    February 4, 2009

    SC: But you are among the most privileged people ever in the history of humanity.

    Absolutely true. As are you. We are very lucky to be enjoying, due to the wealth creation and technological advancement over the past few centuries, a standard of living much greater than that of any of our forebears. And, guess what? That wealth creation and advancement was generated by consumer capitalism.

    That privilege has been gained on the backs of millions of suffering people around the world, and you should never forget it.

    Bullshit. Wealth is not a zero-sum game, and it has not been gained “on the backs” of anyone. Rather, it has been gained through a spectacular rate of innovation and technical and economic progress over the last few centuries.

    I don’t understand why leftists assume that, if one person is acquiring wealth, another person somewhere must be being exploited. Look at another hypothetical. If X owns a factory making consumer goods, and through his or her own efforts he or she develops a new, more efficient industrial process allowing the goods to be made faster and more efficiently, thereby undercutting his or her competitors and getting rich, who exactly has been “exploited”? No one. X has made him- or herself rich, and has also provided cheaper consumer goods to his or her customers, thereby increasing everyone’s standard of living.

  619. #621 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Walton:

    The reason why, in a free society, there are – and will always be – “haves” and “have-nots” is because some people are simply more successful than others.

    Nobody’s arguing that there won’t always be haves and have nots, nor that some of the have nots aren’t accountable for their own misfortune. I am arguing, however, that a society (ooh, that word!) that works collectively to reduce poverty and socioeconomic inequity will be broadly better for all its members than one that embraces the every-person-for-him/herself philosophy you espouse.

    I don’t assert that you intend to be meanspirited… but the real-world effects of your approach would be indistinguishable from those of intentional meanspiritedness.

    You say…

    I’m not going to make the simplistic and rather silly assertion that “the poor deserve to be poor”.

    …but your characterization of your opponents’ position…

    However, I will point out that it is incredibly inefficient – for reasons which hardly need explaining – to subsidise the unsuccessful (regardless of the reason for their lack of success) at the expense of the successful.

    …belies that claim. Despite your parenthetical disclaimer, you are inherently holding all of the “unsuccessful” accountable for their own lack of success by implying that any investment in promoting their success would be wasteful. Far from being “incredibly inefficient,” subsidizing those whose lack of success is not of their own making — i.e., those who possess the personal qualities required for success, but who have been thwarted by some obstacle outside their own control — might well represent a very favorable return on investment.

    But I deny what appears to be your basic premise: That raising the socioeconomic level of the least advantaged class provides no benefit to those more fortunate. I assert, OTOH, that the poverty of our neighbors harms all of us, and that sharp inequities between the poorest and the richest in a society create broad dysfunctions that ultimately harm the whole society. If I’m right (and I know you disavow the very premise of my argument… to wit, that there’s any such thing as society), then using a modest, tolerable amount of the excess wealth possessed by the very richest among us to put a socioeconomic floor under the very poorest is probably the most “efficient” way to address social dysfunctions.

    …on practical grounds, redistributing wealth from those who create it to those who don’t establishes, automatically, a disincentive to the creation of wealth.

    Bushwah! The notion that the Bill Gateses and Warren Buffets of the world would suddenly stop caring about making money (and thereby, presumably, creating jobs and broader social wealth) if they were taxed a modestly larger amount flies in the face not only of common sense, but of their own statements.

    And as to your allegations against my character;

    I make no allegation against your character. Even if I suggest that a particular argument might be disingenuous, I don’t think you’re fundamentally dishonest. On the contrary, you seem earnest and curious, but (IMHO) completely unaware of your place in the socioeconomic context. Case in point:

    I am extremely unlikely ever to become one of the “haves”.

    Based on your posts here, I think I understand (and please correct me if I’m mistaken) that you are a middle-class Briton with access to a university education? And not part of any historically disadvantaged ethnic or demographic group? If so, that makes you vastly wealthier than the overwhelming majority of your fellow humans… and wealthier, I suspect, than a large fraction of your fellow Britons. Certainly you are better off than tens of millions of Americans, counting only the fact that you have access to healthcare and they do not.

    I deny your assertion that you are “extremely unlikely ever to become one of the ‘haves’”; rather, I think you’re incapable of realizing that you already are one.

    I don’t quite understand, in fact, why you seem to think that libertarians are contemptuous of teachers, social workers and the like.

    My comments about teachers weren’t addressed to you, nor was I addressing libertarianism per se; I was replying narrowly (and supportively) to Bobber’s comments. However, since you bring it up, in practice Libertarians end up in bed with other sorts of anti-government right-wingers (even when their underlying philosophies aren’t especially compatible), and slagging public education is a hallmark of the right wing. In particular, the assertion that public employees in general, and public school teachers in particular, are lazy and overpaid is the exclusive province of the right. Sorry if that misrepresents your position, but it’s as true in political discussion as in any other aspect of life that you’re likely to be judged by your bedfellows.

    But even in purely philosophical terms, libertarianism (or any purely market-based POV) is antithetical to the very concept of public education, since it’s impossible to generate profit from the education of the masses. Even private schools are almost all not-for-profit, and even so most cannot cover their operating expenses by charging “market rates” of tuition. Most must resort to direct fundraising (aka begging) and charity to stay solvent. It seems clear to me that the only way schools could survive or profit based solely on “the market” would be to strictly target only the wealthy elites as customers; I don’t see any hope of market-based for-profit schools being able to educate the middle class, let alone the poor. So you can claim to support education all you want; the logical implication of your philosophy is that only the “haves” will be educated, and knowledge will be added to the list of things the “have nots” don’t have.

    Education is a consumer service like any other.

    So say you. I, OTOH, say that education is an essential aspect of the social infrastructure of any democracy.

    While education does have what Milton Friedman calls “neighbourhood effects” – thereby justifying some degree of State subsidy for education – there is no reason why it should be provided through a centralised, bureaucratic governmental framework.

    EPIC FAIL X 2!

    First, the notion that public-sector efforts are necessarily “centralised” and “bureaucratic” — and the embedded implication that “bureaucratic” is automatically a pejorative — is a completely unsupported assertion. Throwing those scare words around is like the ads for “natural” products that use the number of syllables it their competitors’ ingredients to scare consumers, without demonstrating in any way that substances with polysyllabic chemical names are unhealthy.

    Second, I don’t know how public-sector schools are operated in the UK, but here in the U.S. they are about the least “centralised” public institution there is: While they’re subject to federal and state standards, the actual governance of public schools is almost always at the local level, by a locally elected Board of Education. Board of Education, BTW, is one of the most accessible of all elected offices, especially in relatively small towns such as the one where I live. The idea that public education is some sort of archetypal Soviet-style central planning nightmare is just an ideological hallucination of the right.

  620. #622 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 4, 2009

    Absolutely true. As are you.

    Of course I am. I never denied it. And I recognize and appreciate it rather than attributing it to some false sense of personal superiority.

    We are very lucky to be enjoying, due to the wealth creation and technological advancement over the past few centuries, a standard of living much greater than that of any of our forebears.

    And, guess what? That wealth creation and advancement was generated by consumer capitalism.

    Any improved standard of living is based upon empirical science (oh, I forgot – that’s not really of interest to you). The discoveries and inventions that have increased human well-being are the result of the scientific method, collaboration amongst scientists (sometimes transnationally, often in the context of war; and importantly across generations, each of which benefitted from the labor of others to allow it to pursue basic research), and government funding. The effect of capitalism has been to push research in directions that are most profitable regardless of their social value, to create a focus on selling products to the wealthy (that, in the case of, say, drugs, are tested unethically on poor people who won’t likely see any benefits from them even if they prove effective) and creating consumer “needs,” and to create a global system in which conditions and diseases for which we’ve long had solutions continue to kill, maim, blind,… millions who can’t afford treatment or adequate conditions. (For an example, study the history of the science of public health and pharmaceutical development. I could give you several references, but I won’t bother since you haven’t shown that you genuinely have a desire to learn.)

    Bullshit. Wealth is not a zero-sum game, and it has not been gained “on the backs” of anyone. Rather, it has been gained through a spectacular rate of innovation and technical and economic progress over the last few centuries.

    Technical progress and its application in key social arenas, again, are not synonymous with capitalism, despite what its apologists repeatedly claim, and despite your rhetorical linking of “technical and economic” progress. Read the fucking book by Mike Davis. You live in a country with few natural resources whose wealth was built on fucking empire, shithead. (If you don’t want to read Davis, read Imperial Reckoning about the British in Kenya. Anything. Get a sense of history.) Stop talking about the abstract “wealth” and start talking about people in the past and present of the world-capitalist system.

    I don’t understand why leftists assume that, if one person is acquiring wealth, another person somewhere must be being exploited. Look at another hypothetical….

    I’m not assuming anything. I’m speaking from a position of knowledge about history. And no, I’m not going to “look at” any more fucking hypotheticals, and you need to stop speaking in hypotheticals. Ever wondered why your arguments overwhelmingly tend to be abstract? I’m not responding to any more unless you’re willing to undertake the historical and social-scientific research necessary to support the claims you’re making, or at least engage meaningfully with that which has been provided to you.

    (And you haven’t responded to my ealrier posts.)

  621. #623 Watchman
    February 4, 2009

    The idea that public education is some sort of archetypal Soviet-style central planning nightmare is just an ideological hallucination of the right.

    One of many, Bill. One of many.

    Excellent post, BTW.

  622. #624 Walton
    February 4, 2009

    SC and Bill: I want to apologise for the unnecessarily snarky tone of my earlier posts. Looking back, I have not been as civil as I should have been today.

    I’ll address your substantive points later.

  623. #625 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    Bill Dauphin:

    I’m a little late back to this party, but yes – I do agree with your characterization of work as a teacher, and the comparison you drew to white collar office work. I was a teacher until this past summer in NC, a state where much lip service is paid to education, but inadequate funding is the norm; where the “No Child Left Behind” boondoggle has ensured that while students have a wider range of knowledge, this knowledge has no DEPTH – they may learn many more things than I did when I was their age, but they don’t know why the facts are what they are, they don’t know how to apply that knowledge beyond tests, and the worst aspects of human laziness – “Just show me where the answer is” – are accepted by administrators who just want to survive without a lawsuit from a disgruntled parent.

    Some comments:

    I agree completely with SC’s giving credit to Western progress to the advancement of science. Again, I’m a history guy – it’s my passion and (until recently) my profession – and the history of humanity’s upward climb is due almost entirely to advances in human knowledge, not as a result of any economic theory or practice. Before there was market capitalism, there was progress; it can be argued that in some instances, unfettered capitalism retards progress (consider the muscle power of multinational oil companies, and how their money and influence have practically limited full-scale innovations in the areas of alternative fuel research, as just one example).

    I will also agree with Bill Dauphin (okay, no surprise there) regarding the Libertarian antipathy to public education, which any social scientist can show without a doubt has been a public – including economic – good. Consider the positive effects of the GI Bill after World War II, which represented a huge investment by a central government in the future of individual citizens in order to reap the collective rewards that would come years down the road – more people with better educations prepared to adapt to work in a new and changing economy.

    Nor will I ever agree to the thinking behind this:

    “The reason why, in a free society, there are – and will always be – “haves” and “have-nots” is because some people are simply more successful than others.”

    As SC suggested, what is the definition of “free”? All too often, freedom is a matter of economics. In my time in Guatemala, I saw entire villages where people were more or less “free” – but their grinding poverty so severely limited their choices that freedom was a word used by the wealthy elite to generate the illusion of autonomy, which only they themselves enjoyed. Or, what good is freedom to a woman who has nothing more than an elementary education, whose husband has left her with three children and one more on the way, who is being threatened with eviction from her one-room dirt-floor hovel of a house because she hasn’t paid the absentee landowner any rent for three months? Is she really free? Is she not capable of being “successful” – or were circumstances such that she never had a chance to be successful in the first place?

    There may always be “haves and have-nots”, but the measure of a civilization is how it deals with those who have-not, and, in my opinion, how far a society is willing to go to alleviate as many of those factors that cause “have-notism” to exist.

    Finally, I recall a story I used to teach to my language arts class. I don’t remember the name, but it was from India. It was written by a young woman who grew up during the last years of the Raj. The woman and her sister, when they were young, were first sent to an Indian school, and then later to a British one. They were shocked during a recess game where a race was held, and a single person was declared a winner; for in their former (Indian) school, the faster children would wait until all the race participants caught up, and they crossed the line together.

    I always liked that story.

  624. #626 Watchman
    February 4, 2009

    the faster children would wait until all the race participants caught up, and they crossed the line together.

    Commies!

  625. #627 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    Commies!

    Hee hee!

    “Equality of outcomes.” Huzzah!!!!

    See, it’s not charity, it’s just courtesy. Or, as Prince Feisal said in “Lawrence of Arabia”:

    “With Major Lawrence, mercy is a passion. With me it is merely good manners. You may judge which is more reliable.”

    Give me the good manners guy every day.

  626. #628 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 4, 2009

    Consider the positive effects of the GI Bill after World War II, which represented a huge investment by a central government in the future of individual citizens in order to reap the collective rewards that would come years down the road – more people with better educations prepared to adapt to work in a new and changing economy.

    Which, it’s important to mention, would probably not have come about without the struggles of the Bonus Army among others.

    (I’m so happy that you’re commenting more, Bobber! :))

  627. #629 Africangenesis
    February 4, 2009

    Bobber#626,

    You are giving a mixed message, criticising libertarian suspicion and antipathy towards state control of education, while simulataneously complaining about what happens to centrally controlled education when someone like GW Bush wins, while praising the GI bill, which probably has important elements of funding education whether competing public or private institutiions are chosen, i.e., the same advantages that it is hoped that vouchers will supply to primary and secondary education.

    The Indian behavior you described may have been tribe specific. Jim Thorpe was notable for leaving others behind.

    Do you have any specifics on how multinational oil companies have “limited full-scale innovations in the areas of alternative fuel research”. You seem to draw generalizatiions agains capitalism and profit based on some anecdote you have in mind. What are the details?

  628. #630 Janine, Queen of Assholes
    February 4, 2009

    Posted by: SC, FCTE, OM | February 4, 2009

    (I’m so happy that you’re commenting more, Bobber! :))

    I will claim part of the credit for encouraging him to comment.

    Just going by his stories, it would seem that he is a knowledgeable teacher. ‘Tis a shame that he is no longer one.

  629. #631 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    SC: You’re far too gracious. ; )

    Africangenesis:

    I do not believe my message is mixed. I don’t oppose government intervention and support for public education at all. What I oppose is misguided intervention and lack of appropriate support for public education. Government involvement (read: collective investment) is essential. The policy that is enacted is the question, not that action is necessary.

    The Indians I referred to were people from India, not North America, just to be clear.

    As far as my charge against the oil companies, if you wish, you can say that I pulled it out of my ass; I am too busy cartooning to dig up any details at the moment. (Still having trouble drawing bottles.)

  630. #632 Watchman
    February 4, 2009

    (I’m so happy that you’re commenting more, Bobber! :))

    Seconded.

    The Indian behavior you described may have been tribe specific. Jim Thorpe was notable for leaving others behind.

    Heh… good one.

    (You were joking, right? If not… Hello?)

  631. #633 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    Janine:

    Well, of course you deserve credit (or blame?)! Thanks for the encouragement! : )

    Thank you for your comment RE: my teaching abilities. I thought I was a good teacher, and while I worked at an alternative school for kids who had academic or behavior issues, I did quite well. When I was involuntarily transferred to a “regular” school, I ran into a few problems:

    (1) a lousy administration that blamed teachers first, if any issue came up with parents or students;
    (2) a culture of laziness and general malaise toward education (I’m sorry, no one passes my class unless they READ THE DAMN TEXT – if you can read, you WILL); and
    (3) paperwork. Piles and piles of paperwork. Hours spent in afterschool meetings that were a waste of time, but were required by state mandates (which were required by federal mandates).

    It’s a shame I wasn’t more inclined to do the other, non-teacher part of the work. I started teaching too late in life; I just don’t have the patience for things I consider a waste of time.

    And I miss play-acting out the scenes from history books in my classroom. If only I had costumes… but it sure made the kids pay attention. Well, most of them. (Especially my French Revolution execution bits.)

  632. #634 Africangenesis
    February 4, 2009

    Bobber,

    Can you at least remember the type of mechanism oil companies used to limit innovation. Did they get Congress to make it illegal or something?

    Misguided intervention on a broader scale is one of the risks of central control. The usual way for those who think that noone else can manage as well as they, is to go to a single party system and never have real elections again.

  633. #635 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Africangenesis:

    You are giving a mixed message, criticising libertarian suspicion and antipathy towards state control of education, while simulataneously complaining about what happens to centrally controlled education when someone like GW Bush wins

    First, as I’ve said before, all this blather about “state control of education” is just scaremongering. Public schools are subject to basic standards set at the state and federal level, but control is almost always local, and as small-d democratic as just about anything in this country. Plus which, even at the federal level, “the state” isn’t some foreign-born king ruling by force of arms; it’s us.

    Second, the fact that radical anti-government ideologues can do real damage when they lie their way into office is not a valid argument against government; rather, it’s an argument for working harder to make sure the people we elect to run the government actually believe in government. If the local soccer team hired a coach who actually hated soccer, and who therefore deliberately ran the team into the ground, would you take that as proof that soccer was worthless? Or would you just think it meant the team should be more careful about the next coach it hired?

  634. #636 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    Africangenesis:

    Sorry, can’t answer that… after all, the Cheney task force on energy meeting minutes aren’t accessible by the public.

    Look at those names. Note the dearth of representatives from alternative energy-promoting organizations.

    See? Pulled it out of my ass.

  635. #637 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Bobber:

    I started teaching too late in life

    Interesting; I feel just the opposite: I got my first teaching job and 24, right out of graduate school and with no “grownup” work experience. I was “young for my age” (a less charitable term would be immature), and my students were hardly any younger than I felt. My impulse was always more to be one of them than to lead them… and the sad part was that I kept forgetting that even when I had been one of the kids, I had never been one of the popular kids. My big deficit as a teacher was in the area of classroom management, and I finally decided to get out of the way and let someone better have my spot in the classroom.

    Now that I’ve reached an age where I can no longer imagine myself as a 16 year old, and I’ve had ~25 years of life and work experience as an adult, I think I’d be pretty good in the classroom. In fact, I’m strongly considering taking early retirement in a few years and going back to teaching. After a whole career in the allegedly agile, nonbureaucratic private sector (have any of these people who whinge about the “bureaucracy” of government actually worked in the private sector?), I don’t think there’s any level of paperwork that can frighten me!

  636. #638 Walton
    February 4, 2009

    Plus which, even at the federal level, “the state” isn’t some foreign-born king ruling by force of arms; it’s us.

    That’s the root of my disagreement with left-wing (and, indeed, the majority of right-wing) thinking. What do you mean by “us”? Why is it assumed that my personal liberty, and my personal interests and desires, are subsumed by those of “the community” (read “a majority of the people who happen to live within a certain arbitrarily-defined geographical area”)?

    The state is not “us”, because there is no such thing as “us”. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t downplay the importance of community. But, for community to be meaningful – and for there to be any such thing as a “will of the community” or “community interests” – it must be voluntary in character; people who disagree with its purported “will” must be free to opt out and to join a community which better represents their own wishes and desires. Thus, nation-states, local governments and other polities are not “communities” in any legitimising sense; rather, they are collections of people who happen to live in a particular area and who are, whether they like it or not, subjected to the whims of the governing authority of that area.

    In a democracy, the State has – in theory, at least – the approval of a majority of its subjects. But there is no moral difference between one person imposing his will on all other people, and a majority imposing their will on a minority. It’s still coercion.

    Don’t get me wrong. Democracy is better than dictatorship, as a practical matter, for two reasons: (a) a government responsible to the majority is marginally less likely to get away with corrupt, capricious and evil conduct, though this is certainly not a cast-iron rule; and (b) more importantly, in a democracy, it’s possible to eject one’s leaders without the inconvenience of having to assassinate them. But this doesn’t mean that the mere fact of a government being “democratic” magically gives it some moral authority, or negates the need for a vigorous protection of individual rights.

    At its root, all government is simply a sophisticated protection racket. Its power rests on coercive force. “Democratic” government has no more inherent legitimacy than any other form. If a law is morally right, I obey it because it is morally right; if it is not morally right, I obey it because, if I do not, the agents of the State will use coercive force to compel me to do so.

    I reject, therefore, the orthodox distinction in political theory between “power” and “authority”. A person pointing a gun at one’s head has “power”, whether he’s a criminal or an agent of the State; the difference between the two, however, is that the latter can use force with impunity, because the majority is trained to accept the myth that the State has some “moral authority” to make decisions on our behalf and to force us to comply. In reality, there is no difference. And so those of us who value freedom have a responsibility to fight back, and to force the State to accept limits on its power.

    Again, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t doubt that many politicians, civil servants and other officials of the State are motivated by much higher and more noble purposes than your average protection racketeer; they genuinely desire to improve the lot of “the people”. But this is, in fact, what makes the State such a frightening and inherently dangerous concept. As someone once said: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron?s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  637. #639 Knockgoats
    February 4, 2009

    And, by supporting the notion that there really is such a thing as “luck” you’re basically asserting that all pursuit of science is wrong, dumbass. – Ward S. Denker

    Nonsense. Scientists use statistics, precisely because they have to find ways to filter out the influence of the mass of unpredictable influences on individual cases. Yet each one of us is an individual case, subject to all those factors. As has been pointed out above, if you know enough of the starting conditions, the fall of a roulette ball is predictable. It does not stop anyone – including scientists – talking about someone having “good luck” or “bad luck” in the casino. Or in the inspirational teachers you do (or don’t) meet, the encounter with a person or book that sparks your interest in a particular foreign country, the offhand remark from an adult that turns you toward, or away, from a particular subject, the postal delay that means one university offer appears before another and tips the balance on where you go…

    One cannot pick one’s parents, genetics, or capacity to labor for society. – Ward S. Denker

    Indeed – something we can agree on. Or the country and class you grow up in, hence the wars, natural disasters and famines that you have to cope with (or don’t), the chance that you will be killed, disabled or just slightly stunted by childhood illness or malnutrition; the educational opportunities you will have. If we are serious about giving everyone a decent chance in life, then charity just doesn’t cut it: serious redistribution is required on both national and international scales.

  638. #640 Knockgoats
    February 4, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    You mention worker cooperatives, but not consumer cooperatives. Is it your intent to grant workers more power to optimize their more local concentrated interests at the expense of more diffusely distributed consumers?

    No. I simply didn’t happen to mention consumer coops. With sufficiently large enterprises, I would want interests other than the workers represented on a supervisory board.

    First, today’s society is more, not less industrialised; it is global, and on the global scale, there is more industry than ever. The general principle is the democratisation of economic life – and that implies that all those seriously affected by how an enterprise is run should have a voice (of course “seriously” is a matter of degree, and there’s no reason why the decision on where to draw the line should be the same everywhere). This “voice” might be a representative on a supervisory board of management; not running the enterprise day-to-day, but able to set overall goals – which because of the diversity of interests represented, would not be simply to maximise profit, turnover, or market share.
    In the case of major transport or energy infrastructure, for example, those seriously affected would be everyone in the area it covers – so it should be municipally/regionally/globally owned. Similarly large banks – we’ve seen how irresponsible they are when privately owned, basically because they do not factor systemic risk into their calculations. In the case of large factories in less general industries, the workers at all levels, the local community, perhaps representatives of related industries.

    I wonder if you might be under estimating the democratic elements of a market system that in a sense “voted” to give say the Beatles more capital than the Monkeys.

    The problem is, the market gives you votes according to your wealth. This is not important when it comes to Beatles/Monkees; it is vitally so in health care and education; and there are many intermediate cases. One central concern is to avoid self-reinforcing inequalities in wealth and consequently power (the “libertarian” right systematically ignore the fact that wealth is a form of power, and that those with any form of power tend to use it to increase it further, and to make it hereditary).

    I also wonder if there is any pattern to be seen in contrasting the type of managers of capital and enterprises chosen in the current system with the type of managers chosen perhaps more democratically by labor unions. Do the latter have the right skill set? Do they balance wider societal interests? If their constituency is from workers below, will they serve the consumer and society as well as the current system does? Would it be legal for unions to strike as part of the “negotiations” you mentioned?

    See above – in sufficiently influential enterprises, the workers would not be the only constituency represented. Yes, strikes should be legal.

    One thing I want to think more about is where the concentations of capital end up on your schema. Large enterprises do generally need more capital for long term projects. I’m wonder if that capital will end up in the same or different places. I wonder whether the new mangement system will be as environmentally conscious as the current one, especially if there is more input from the extremely poor of the world.

    Could hardly be less so: overwhelmingly it has been state action and pressure from environmental organisations that have halted environmentally damaging commercial activity, not management concern. It is of course the extremely poor who suffer most from environmental destruction, as they cannot buy their way out of the effects – which is not to say they can be relied on to make environmentally responsible decisions.

    I wonder if you might be assuming that private concentrations of wealth are less efficient and more socially negative than they would be if the managers are chosen different. What is the social detriment if someone who is good at managing capital to generate high returns, accumulates more capital, much more capital than any one person “deserves”, especially since it was socially generated. Unless that person purchases tremendous amounts of land, there is no way he can personally hope to consume more than a fraction of a fraction of a percent. All that person can really do with that capital is to continue to manage it well, or if he manages it poorly it will erode into the hands of better managers.

    Generating high returns may well mean exploiting the workforce, smashing unions, trashing the environment, selling health-damaging products and lying about their effects, creating demand through dishonest and/or insecurity-inducing advertising (with the message: “You won’t be sexy/admired/popular/a good mother unless you buy our product”), etc. “Efficient” is a deceptive word. It has a technical meaning in economics which does not correspond well with its meaning in everyday language: an “efficient” market or enterprise can cause immense environmental destruction and human suffering.

    One more note: I don’t have a detailed socio-economic blueprint; rather, a concern to avoid various disastrous environmental outcomes, and mitigate the extreme inequality likely if capitalism continues on its merry way; and a desire to both broaden and deepen democratic decision-making, which information technology in particular is making ever more feasible.

  639. #641 Knockgoats
    February 4, 2009

    But there is no moral difference between one person imposing his will on all other people, and a majority imposing their will on a minority. It’s still coercion.
    Walton

    Yet more bilge from Walton. Of course it’s coercion, and of course there is a moral difference between the two cases – which is not to say coercion by the majority is always justifiable. Walton himself, of course, believes some coercion, even state coercion, is justifiable: he thinks the state should protect the sanctity of property. He is, in short, a hypocrite.

  640. #642 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Walton:

    The state is not “us”, because there is no such thing as “us”.

    This is, I’m afraid, a point of irreconcilable difference between us.

    I don’t downplay the importance of community.

    Denying its existence doesn’t constitute downplaying its importance? How, pray tell, does that work? You say…

    …for there to be any such thing as a “will of the community” or “community interests” – it must be voluntary in character…

    …yet the whole thrust of your argument appears to be that the very notion of community is inherently non-voluntary… because, as near as I can make out your intent, the existence of community places some boundaries on individual freedom of action.

    But guess what? The mere existence of other beings on the planet places boundaries on your freedom of action. There is no such thing as unfettered personal liberty. Even in the absence of any government whatsoever, your personal liberty would be at the mercy of whatever other human (or other animal, for that matter) that happened along and possessed more power than you. The notion that your choice is a binary one between liberty and community is entirely fallacious. Other people exist.

    That being the case…

    …this doesn’t mean that the mere fact of a government being “democratic” magically gives it some moral authority,

    Yes, it does. Not “magically,” perhaps — we’re all rationalists on this bus — but democratic government does have moral authority by comparison to other forms of government, or to the rough “government” of the jungle, specifically because…

    …or negates the need for a vigorous protection of individual rights.

    …democratic government is the best available “vigorous protection of individual rights”; it’s the only form of government (including, IMHO, all the de facto forms that would inevitably fill the void resulting from the absence of formal government) that even attempts to give each individual’s rights equal weight.

    But since you insist on viewing any government — no matter how egalitarian and representative it might be — in the third person, I know in advance you won’t accept any of the above.

  641. #643 Watchman
    February 4, 2009

    Bill, I think Walton’s concept of “community” is that of a group that shares common interests, beliefs, and goals, regardless of physical (geographical) location. (I wonder if he’s read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress?)

    I accept the concept as valid – a trade union is that sort of community, in contrast to the more conventional such as “everyone who lives in Barney Frank’s congressional district” – but it’s naive to think that the all members of any interest group with more than one member are always going to agree on everything, and I have no doubt that Walton realizes this. So, in Walton’s virtual communities, people are either a) regularly, perhaps even constantly, leaving communities and joining others that better represent their interests (at the moment), or b) occasionally submitting their will to the coercive will of their community, rather than become self-seeking, ideological nomads forever searching for the perfect fit.

  642. #644 Bill Dauphin
    February 4, 2009

    Watchman:

    I think Walton’s concept of “community” is that of a group that shares common interests, beliefs, and goals, regardless of physical (geographical) location. …

    I accept the concept as valid – a trade union is that sort of community, in contrast to the more conventional such as “everyone who lives in Barney Frank’s congressional district”

    Maybe that’s what he was getting at, but I fail to see how it makes a difference to his argument: Regardless of whether it’s defined geopolitically or by some other index of commonality, either a community involves some degree of subordination of personal liberty to the community consensus (which Walton seems to abhor) or it effectively doesn’t exist. Are we to imagine that labor unions go on strike because each individual member happens to personally choose, entirely voluntarily but simultaneously, to withhold labor? Isn’t it more likely that some members would not have chosen to strike, but are constrained by their membership to follow the consensus decision?

    but it’s naive to think that the all members of any interest group with more than one member are always going to agree on everything, and I have no doubt that Walton realizes this

    I’m not sure Walton does realize this: In the post I replied to, he both denied the existence of “us” (based on the fact that any such collective entity violates individual liberty) yet claimed not to be downplaying the importance of “community.” Since I fail to acknowledge anything that can meaningfully be called “community” yet cannot be called (by its members, at least) “us,” I frankly don’t know what the Hell he’s talking about. His arguments seem self-contradictory. But maybe that’s just me, eh?

    (I wonder if he’s read The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress?)

    No doubt; I’ve rarely met anyone who holds to any version of libertarianism who has not. In fact, though, the book (which I happen to love) gives equal voice and credence to not only libertarians but anarchists, royalists, socialists (IIRC), and Jeffersonian democrats. Heinlein (who was both a socialist and right-winger at various times in his own life) spent a lot of time “playing” with alternative political models in his books (Double Star presents a multi-world parliamentary democracy/constitutional empire; Starship Troopers posits a democracy in which only those who have completed a term of federal service earn the franchise; Stranger in a Strange Land imagines a one-world government evolved from the UN; etc.), yet the right always seems absolutely convinced he was on their side. Go figure, eh?

  643. #645 John Morales
    February 4, 2009

    OOT
    I find the politics and economics boring, but it’s still interesting to follow a thread where the participants actually communicate!

    I post because, as a teenager, Heinlein was possibly my favourite author and strongly influenced my views – particularly what I perceived as his philosophy of enlightened self-interest – and to this day I’d recommend reading his books. (um. Except maybe the very late fiction ones. I did find Grumbles from the Grave a great read.)

  644. #646 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 4, 2009

    Maybe that’s what he was getting at, but I fail to see how it makes a difference to his argument: Regardless of whether it’s defined geopolitically or by some other index of commonality, either a community involves some degree of subordination of personal liberty to the community consensus (which Walton seems to abhor) or it effectively doesn’t exist. Are we to imagine that labor unions go on strike because each individual member happens to personally choose, entirely voluntarily but simultaneously, to withhold labor? Isn’t it more likely that some members would not have chosen to strike, but are constrained by their membership to follow the consensus decision?

    It’s completely perplexing. It’s like he doesn’t recognize the possibility of democracy in practice. I mean, why would anyone approach democracy as a situation in which there are pre-existing and preformed individual wills which, of which, in order for any collective policy to be made, some must abide by the collective will or be coerced. What about the whole process of debate and presenting evidence to convince other people that the plan you advocate is the right one and to develop a consensus? I’ve been in a union that was preparing to take a strike vote, and it wasn’t like some people said “We have to go on strike” and others just had to capitulate. In the case of the Bolivian constitution, the document itself was the result of months of heated debate and discussion, and the referendum was merely the final stage in the long process. Somehow to Walton participatory, democratic decision-making itself seems to appear the essence of coercion and restraint on liberty. No polis, in any context, can (or should) even exist. Very strange.

  645. #647 Bobber
    February 4, 2009

    It is the contrarian Libertarian strain which has always been interesting to me. The individual is seen as the absolute entity – when in doubt, everything must give way before the rights of the individual. But human civilization has never been organized on that basis, nor can it be – it’s as if you’re trying to make a human body out of the trillion or so human cells that are nececessary for it to function, but providing no means for those cells to cohere, or even to communicate with each other. As with organisms, no society can be composed of each of its parts acting in complete autonomy, one from the other.

    It is ironic: whereas economic Libertarians are fond of saying “there are winners and losers”, they themselves can’t stand the thought that their own individual desires may not be reflected in society as a whole, and so they make themselves outcasts in order to prove the point. Democracy is, by its very nature, compromising – and Libertarianism is too rigid for that reality.

  646. #648 Ward S. Denker
    February 4, 2009

    Wow, I thought this thread had died, but it’s still kicking. Here goes!

    SC, FCTE, OM (#616)

    What exactly do you mean by this? What evidence are you offering to support your claims?

    That education solves most of the causes of poverty which are deterministic? Common sense. If you end up never having learned how to manage a checkbook, read a contract to see that you’re getting screwed, how to save, how to budget, etc. you’re much more likely to make poor decisions.

    Would you give a teenager a credit card with a $15,000 limit on it and not teach said teenager how to use a credit card? Of course you wouldn’t. A lot of details like this simply don’t get taught in public education, and that’s a damned shame. I know that there was not a single class in all of my schooling that talked about any of that.

    I worked for a large company which had a head accountant who could not manually figure out why her books wouldn’t balance. I had to find the errors in the computer and fix them. She simply accepted them and wrote them off each month, costing the company thousands per annum. Her private life was a mess too, her finances weren’t in order and she worked two jobs to stay in her home. This is a person who has made statistical mathematics her life and she couldn’t keep it all straight for herself, let alone her company.

    The basic kinds of information someone would get calling a credit counseling firm would have been invaluable to young adults just starting out, before they dug themselves into a credit card hole of debt. Credit card companies count on their customers’ ignorance. How can anyone ever save for the future if they’re already in debt and digging? Then when real tragedy hits (illness, etc.) they have no backup plan, no savings, forcing them further into debt with higher and higher interest rates. Wouldn’t a lot of this be avoided if schooling really drove home how it is that this interest is compounded?

    Bill Dauphin (#617)

    I confess I haven’t been able to keep up with the flood of words in this thread, so rather than presuming to characterize Ward’s position per se I’ll just note that, in my experience, most people who argue against luck are arguing for the proposition that each and every individual is personally responsible for his or her own misfortune.

    It’s a good thing you didn’t elect yourself my champion in my stead. Had you read what I was talking about, you’d have found that I recognize there are some cases which few enough have the information to avoid. See my bit above on education. Preventative medicine to poverty is better than trying to cure the ills after it has set in.

    Bobber (#626)

    I will also agree with Bill Dauphin (okay, no surprise there) regarding the Libertarian antipathy to public education, which any social scientist can show without a doubt has been a public – including economic – good.

    See #609 by me. The only issue I could see you take there is with vouchers, but it seems we’re very much in a “shit or get off the pot” mode on that in this country. The school system is pretty much a monopoly. Enabling parents to select schools of their choice puts a competitive pressure on the public school system, forcing it to earn its keep (hold on to the students it has). That can only improve education. Throwing gobsmackingly high amounts of money at the problem hasn’t caused it to give. Legislation hasn’t either (No Child Left Behind… what a lie). Why not give the competition tactic a go ? seeing as the status quo of “more money” and “more legislation” haven’t put a dent in it? What do we really have to lose?

    In 609 I said:

    I also believe we have a right to education, but I support methods that promote market alternatives (vouchers) because they increase competition, which can only strengthen the quality of the public education system. This is out of self-interest and out of societal interest at the same time. An ignorant society is not a free society, but one easily subjugated to the will of others (personal, corporate, governmental, religious, or what have you).

    That’s a very Libertarian stance on the issue, why do you believe otherwise?

  647. #649 Walton
    February 5, 2009

    Bill Dauphin et al., I understand where you’re coming from with regards to community.

    However, I would point out that (in a country with full freedom of association) you have the right to leave a trade union, or any other voluntary group or organisation, if you don’t agree with its policies. They do not, ultimately, have the right to hold a gun to your head and force you to comply with the majority’s wishes. The State does. And this is why the subjects of the State can never really be a “community”, whereas a voluntary group can.

    When I said that there is no such thing as “us”, I was, perhaps, linguistically imprecise. I should have said that there is no such thing as “we, the people of country X”, in any meaningful sense. (This stance is, I realise, rather heterodox and will piss off left-wingers and patriotic conservatives alike. But in good conscience I can’t lie about my stance on this issue.)

    The fact is that, short of actually migrating to another country (which is unlikely to be any less illiberal than the one where I already live), I have no choice about complying with the wishes of the majority. And since the whole of the Earth’s surface is now claimed by one polity or another, I can’t go somewhere and start my own rival nation. Thus, nations are not comparable in character to voluntary groups; and while a voluntary group may well make decisions democratically, the fact is that, in the last resort, a member who becomes thoroughly disaffected with the group’s policies is free to leave and start his own group. That simply isn’t true in the world of nation-states. Rather, the majority effectively has the power to force me to buckle under and bow to their wishes – in the last resort, by holding a gun to my head – whether I like it or not.

    (Indeed, Milton Friedman’s argument for localism in government was that it’s a lot easier to move between local government jurisdictions if you don’t like the local government’s policy, than it is to move between nation-states. And I think he was exactly right.)

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not denying that democracy is a better method of selecting public officials than any other which has so far been developed, and that it is in practice less likely to trample individual rights than any other extant form of government. However, I would assert that it is not enough in itself; it needs to be coupled with serious constitutional limitations on the scope of government power, including a rigid constitutional protection of private property rights. (“Eminent domain” is a truly iniquitous practice, and the great failing of most constitutions is that they do not prevent the State from stealing private property in the so-called “public interest”.) These limitations should be enforced by an active and independent judiciary; while the court system leaves much to be desired, I can’t think of any other effective method of protecting the minority’s property rights even against the will of an overwhelming majority.

  648. #650 SC, FCTE, OM
    February 5, 2009

    That education solves most of the causes of poverty which are deterministic? Common sense.

    Let me try this again: What do you mean by deterministic? There are specific ways of defining determinism in the social sciences, and your use of the word doesn’t seem to fit any of them. The rest of your little essay strikes me as irrelevant. (And has it occurred to you that the reason for debt is not that people don’t manage their money well, but that they don’t have enough to begin with? You’re also ignoring the role of debt-driven consumption in contemporary capitalism, but I’ll leave that aside.) Please define “deterministic” as you’re using it in this context, distinguishing it from other explanations for poverty. Then, please provide non-anecdotal (preferably global) evidence to support your argument. Thank you.

  649. #651 Watchman
    February 5, 2009

    Bill D:

    Maybe that’s what he was getting at, but I fail to see how it makes a difference to his argument: Regardless of whether it’s defined geopolitically or by some other index of commonality, either a community involves some degree of subordination of personal liberty to the community consensus…

    Yes, my point exactly!

    [Sorry, a partial response will have to do for now!]

  650. #652 Bill Dauphin
    February 5, 2009

    SC:

    I think you understood me, but to just clarify my potentially ambiguous point…

    Isn’t it more likely that some [union] members would not have chosen to strike, but are constrained by their membership to follow the consensus decision?

    … I’ve been in a union that was preparing to take a strike vote, and it wasn’t like some people said “We have to go on strike” and others just had to capitulate.

    I meant that union members “are consttrained by the [conditions of] their [presumably voluntary] membership to follow the [deliberative, democratic] consensus decision” (i.e., the experience you report); I did not mean to suggest they were being bullied into acquiescence by their fellow members.

    Ward:

    Since I was very careful to make it clear that I was responding broadly to typical libertarian argument, and not to your specific comments, I discount your whingeing on that score. This, however…

    Enabling parents to select schools of their choice puts a competitive pressure on the public school system, forcing it to earn its keep (hold on to the students it has). That can only improve education.

    That can only improve education if you make the a priori assumption that lack of competition is what’s wrong with education. The idea that competitive pressure improves an enterprise rests on the notion that there’s something the enterprise could be doing — and already knows how to do — to improve its performance, but for which there’s insufficient motivation. In my experience, that doesn’t apply to teachers: They’re motivated to do the best jobs they know how not by competition (e.g., for test scores) with the school down the street, nor by their potential monetary rewards (if they were significantly motivated by money, they wouldn’t be teachers in the first place), but by their concern for the wellbeing of their students, and of the community. Voucher-enabled transfers could certainly make public school teachers fear for their jobs… but it’s impossible for me to imagine that fear translating into better teaching; fear and anger are toxic to the delicate dynamics of the classroom.

    Throwing gobsmackingly high amounts of money at the problem hasn’t caused it to give.

    I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone has done any such throwing. Perhaps your gob is way too easily smacked?

    I would point out that (in a country with full freedom of association) you have the right to leave a trade union, or any other voluntary group or organisation, if you don’t agree with its policies.

    As you can with the “state”: Unlike the old Soviet Union, I know of no current democracy that forbids its citizens from emigrating. Certainly the U.S. does not, and I’m willing to be the UK does not, either.

    They do not, ultimately, have the right to hold a gun to your head and force you to comply with the majority’s wishes. The State does. And this is why the subjects of the State can never really be a “community”, whereas a voluntary group can.

    Every collective entity will have rules that place limits and obligations on its members; as I said before, any so-called “community” that doesn’t involve some level of subordination of individual liberty to the consensus of the group effectively doesn’t exist. If you’re a union member and you fail to pay your dues, or you contravene the proper decisions of the group, you’ll be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion; if you’re a citizen of the state and you fail to pay your taxes (dues), or you contravene the law (proper decisions of the group), you’ll be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including imprisonment (expulsion from society). In principle, it’s the same either way; the differences in the scope of personal limitations and the potential severity of the disciplinary actions are differences of degree rather than of kind… and they’re arguably proportional to the importance of the rules.

    The “gun to your head” character of state discipline only actually arises in the case of criminal law and the exercise of the police power (which in the U.S. is mostly vested in local authorities, BTW), and criminal laws exist primarily to protect individuals’ rights (esp. those property rights you so revere) against the encroachment of others. If your neighbor is bigger and stronger than you, eventually it will require somebody’s gun to her head to prevent her from taking your stuff; would you prefer that gun to be in the hands of random vigilantes, or of cops hired by, and accountable to, a government in which your voice is equal to everyone else’s?

    The fact is that, short of actually migrating to another country (which is unlikely to be any less illiberal than the one where I already live), I have no choice about complying with the wishes of the majority. And since the whole of the Earth’s surface is now claimed by one polity or another, I can’t go somewhere and start my own rival nation.

    You’re pretty much making my point(s) for me: First, that there’s no place you can go to escape some form of government; second, that liberal democracies such as those in Europe and North America are probably preferable to any available alternative. Where we differ is that I think the former point represents a fundamental fact of the human condition rather than a lamentable (and correctable) failure… and that I think liberal democracies are in principle (though not necessarily in the details of implementation) not only the best available form but the best possible form.

    However, if you persist in believing in some yet-untried utopian form of community, let me suggest that you advocate strongly for the development of human spaceflight and offworld colonies. I’m only half joking here: One effect of the establishment of human colonies in the inner Solar System (Moon, Mars, Phobos and Deimos, the asteroid belt, etc.) would be the possibility of creating isolated human populations that could be “laboratories” for alternative social and political structures. I’ll visit you on Ceres, and you can give me a tour of your libertarian oasis…. ;^)

  651. #653 Bill Dauphin
    February 5, 2009

    Oops, I horked up my tagging @653:

    First, the sentence that begins “Throwing gobsmackingly high amounts…” was Ward’s words, and should’ve been a blockquote.

    Second, everything after my two-sentence reply to the above sentence (i.e., ending in “…your gob is way too easily smacked?”) is a reply to Walton, not Ward, and all the blockquotes in the remainder of that comment are Walton’s words.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  652. #654 Bobber
    February 5, 2009

    Bill Dauphin said:

    I’ll visit you on Ceres, and you can give me a tour of your libertarian oasis…. ;^)

    You’ve got it right there. Consider how similar the Libertarian philosophy in practice is to the fables told of the settlement of North America by Europeans, or (moreso) the expansion into the western part of the continent by people from the east. These were “rough individualists”, “tough pioneers”, “self-sufficient farmers”. The sociological aspects of American independence are downplayed, the economic ones (Boston Tea Party, tarring-and-feathering tax collectors) are accentuated. Much of the mysticism associated with American history is Libertarian-flavored. Is it any wonder that people still look to these myths? They make every person a hero, standing alone against the elements, the Red Man, the big businessman…

  653. #655 Walton
    February 5, 2009

    Bill Dauphin: If you’re a union member and you fail to pay your dues, or you contravene the proper decisions of the group, you’ll be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion; if you’re a citizen of the state and you fail to pay your taxes (dues), or you contravene the law (proper decisions of the group), you’ll be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including imprisonment (expulsion from society). In principle, it’s the same either way; the differences in the scope of personal limitations and the potential severity of the disciplinary actions are differences of degree rather than of kind… and they’re arguably proportional to the importance of the rules.

    No, I think you’re comparing two fundamentally different things. Yes, a trade union, or a student society, or any other body can bring disciplinary action against you and can, in the last resort, expel you from its ranks. But it can’t deprive you of your liberty. It cannot lock you up. And you are at any time free to leave.

    An example which is often raised on this site, in fact: leaving a church. While some churches (the LDS being particularly notorious in this regard) do everything they can to avoid removing people from their membership rolls, they cannot, in the end, force you to remain a member. And if you choose to leave, all the “disciplinary action” and “tribunals” they want to use against you will have no effect. You can, in the last resort (and people have done this to the LDS church many times) go to court and require them to strike your name from the membership rolls. You can walk out into the bright sunshine and live your life without them being able to exercise any power over you. Ditto for a political party, or a trade union.

    With the State, you simply don’t have this option. Yes, I do realise that technically one is free to emigrate; but that isn’t comparable, because you don’t have the option to opt out of the whole “nation-states” business altogether. I am free to refuse to join any trade union, or any church, or any political party if I so choose, and so I do not have to be subject to the jurisdiction of any such organisation. But I can’t choose to opt out of the laws of nations. Even if I choose to renounce my citizenship of any state and surrender my political rights, I still have to pay taxes to whichever jurisdiction I live in, and will be locked up if I don’t.

    This is why I point out that there is no material difference between government and a protection racket. Yes, you can choose which gang you want extorting your money. But you don’t have the option to opt out altogether; if you do, they will ultimately use force to compel you to comply.

    I realise all of this sounds rather Rothbardian, but I hasten to add that I am not an anarchocapitalist*. I believe in the fundamental sanctity of private property rights – as we used to say over here, “an Englishman’s home is his castle”** – and I dont see any way of defining and protecting such rights without a state and a legal framework. Sure, you could simply have an armed citizenry with the right to defend their own property; but then the strong would prey on the weak, and property disputes would be resolved by physical violence. Such a climate would be so unstable that it would make it impossible to do business, and would also be inefficient, since people would devote more of their efforts to self-defence rather than economic productivity and innovation, thereby reducing everyone’s standard of living.

    So I accept the existence of the State as a necessary evil. But, like all necessary evils, it should IMO be kept to the barest possible minimum. Yes, it should protect private property rights and arbitrate disputes; provide a basic level of national defence, police and fire protection and public safety; and make some provision for the welfare of the poorest, which I would justify both on humanitarian and on practical grounds (a society where half the population is on the brink of starvation is inevitably going to have high crime rates, rioting and instability). But where we have a clear choice of having a function performed by agencies of the State or by the private and voluntary sectors, the latter is inherently preferable IMO.

    *To SC: I am not endorsing their position by using the word. It’s what they call themselves. So please don’t start on the whole “anarchocapitalists are not anarchists” thing again; I understand and accept your point.
    **And yes, I realise I’ll be accused by the PC enforcement brigade of being sexist and racist for using this traditional expression. So, to elaborate my meaning, “the private property of a property-owning person, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or other irrelevant characteristics, is his or her castle.” Happy?

  654. #656 Ward S. Denker
    February 5, 2009

    Re: SC, OM (#651)

    Please define “deterministic” as you’re using it in this context, distinguishing it from other explanations for poverty.

    Alright. I’ll define it as a spectrum of behavior which is preventable. By that definition, non-deterministic causes for poverty would be ones which most people would lack foresight to prevent.

    Teenage pregnancy is preventable and it destroys futures. Do you think our country’s abstinence-only education is helping them? Would it not stand to reason that all of the suffering that arises from not having a proper education on basics, like those I mentioned above, could also be prevented?

    What I said isn’t irrelevant, but the fact that you have so easily dismissed tells me that you know it’s correct but would rather ignore it because it does not fit your pre-conceived notion of how the world works. By refusing to address it, you’ve put your head just as deeply into the sand as any creationist has about evolution.

    I contend that lack of money, in a society with minimum wage laws, is not the cause of poverty. I believe that is another one of those outliers, beyond the trend.

    Here’s an anecdote Homeless: Can you build a life from $25?

    I’m sure you’ll dismiss it as well, because you won’t read it very carefully or you won’t like that the story appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, or some other trivial self-justified prejudice.

    As for non-anecdotal evidence, how about comparing the basic educational resources of third world countries to first world countries? How about comparing the educational resources for higher learning among the struggling third-world countries and those which are emerging?

    You and I are bringing about equal evidence to this argument, where’s yours?

    Re: Bill Dauphin (#653)

    That can only improve education if you make the a priori assumption that lack of competition is what’s wrong with education. The idea that competitive pressure improves an enterprise rests on the notion that there’s something the enterprise could be doing ? and already knows how to do ? to improve its performance, but for which there’s insufficient motivation.

    This is silly, I’ve made no such assumption that our public school system knows what it is doing. One need only compare the education gotten from a private school education. You seem to be making an a priori of your own that the only reason private schools do well is because they’re more expensive than public schools.

    To you, throwing money at the problem solves it, while that isn’t working for our public school system at all.

    National Per Student Public School Spending Nears $9,000 This comes from the Census Bureau. Are you going to argue that at almost $9,000 a head we can’t afford a textbook for each student for every class they take, a chalk board, teachers to lecture classrooms of twenty to thirty of them at a time, and to maintain a building to house it all in (seeing as we have public schools everywhere which are already built)? That spending per student looks pretty darned good to me. If that $9,000 could be obtained by a voucher, how many parents could then afford private schooling?

    How do parents select which private school to send their children to, anyway? This should seem obvious, but it bears mentioning: They compare all of the private schools they can afford to determine which has the best education program for their money.

    People do this for public schools too, you know? Public schools are paid for by local property taxes. If parents think their children are going to get a shoddy education, they move. They have to, they can’t send their kids to a different public school out of their area. There isn’t even competition between public schools because of how they’re financed. This keeps a lot of kids in a crappy school.

    In my experience, that doesn’t apply to teachers: They’re motivated to do the best jobs they know how not by competition (e.g., for test scores) with the school down the street, nor by their potential monetary rewards (if they were significantly motivated by money, they wouldn’t be teachers in the first place), but by their concern for the wellbeing of their students, and of the community. Voucher-enabled transfers could certainly make public school teachers fear for their jobs… but it’s impossible for me to imagine that fear translating into better teaching; fear and anger are toxic to the delicate dynamics of the classroom.

    The first bit is just an appeal to emotion, probably because you know good teachers. There are poor teachers as well.

    Everyone should fear for his or her job, that’s an incentive to do the job well. Would your employer keep you on staff if they felt you were doing a sub-par job? Of course not. Schools don’t have that luxury, there aren’t so many people who are motivated to become teachers.

    I note that neither of you tried to defend the No Child Left Behind Act. A lot of Democrats voted for it too, including our current President. Does that not make our current president every bit as guilty for supporting that abominable piece of education legislation as our former one?

  655. #657 Ward S. Denker
    February 5, 2009

    I tire of being on the defensive. It’s your guys’ job now.

    What evidence can you give that education doesn’t lift people out of poverty better than redistribution?