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« Two Percent Company Rants Are Back Up The RantsCarnival of the Godless #5 and a Call for Skeptics' Circle Submissions »

Libertarians and ColecoVision
2005.02.24 (Thu) 23:18

We recently heard from reader Joe, who asked about our view of the Libertarian party. He had read a Score entry in which we explained why we do not agree with the Libertarians, and was looking for some clarification from us. We were pretty sure we had given specific examples of our points of disagreement, but when we went back to see what we had included, we found that we were wrong — all we had was a brief paragraph saying that the Libertarian platform was too idealistic.

In an effort to rectify this situation, we dove into the Libertarian platform to do a point-by-point analysis of what we thought was right and what we thought was misguided about their proposals. One exceptionally long night later, we emerged from behind our computers with a new, improved Score entry — the Trouble with Libertarians — which we will be further expanding in the future. We also emerged with a fair degree of shock concerning the Libertarian platform. Based on what we learned, we spoke with some acquaintances who consider themselves to be Libertarians. We believe — and hope — that most Libertarians, like the ones we know, focus mainly on the "civil libertarian" aspects of the platform, and do not promote the proposals which we found to straddle the line of sanity...or those proposals that are lounging quite comfortably on the other side of that line.

Of course, one thing we commend the Libertarians for is having the courage to explicitly outline their platform in the first place, allowing full disclosure and keeping the public informed (should the public choose to do the research). Getting the full scoop on the Republican or Democratic platforms? That's a different story. The Democratic party platform reads more as an advertisement for John Kerry, and an attack on George Bush, than it does as a statement of policies and solutions. The Republicans, on the other hand, don't even seem to have an easily accessible platform statement — instead, they present the president's agenda, while neatly sidestepping any mention of potentially unpopular issues. If the Republicans and Democrats took the steps to make every plank in their platforms known, we're sure we would be just as blown away by their absurdities and logical inconsistencies as we are by the Libertarians'.

— • —
Overview of the Libertarian Platform

The Libertarian platform starts off by saying the following in their Statement of Principles:

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

We couldn't agree more. In fact, the basic position statement of the Two Percent Company is very similar:

In short, we believe that people have the right to do whatever they want to do, as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of others.

Up to this point, we are in complete agreement with the Libertarian Platform; but then we get past this sentence, and we fall off the Libertarian train. The main difference is that the Libertarian platform advocates an almost total lack of government and a level of freedom that, while laudable in the abstract, leans too close to anarchy. The Libertarian state is one which, if it were able to be applied, would be a virtual utopia; but as applied to the real world, the Libertarian platform just isn't feasible.

The basic premise of the Libertarian Party is the separation of ______ and state. For a Libertarian, literally anything can be inserted in that blank — religion, banks, business, education, medicine, water, and so on. Since the function of government is so diminished in the Libertarian view, there is no need for taxation, which the Libertarians oppose in all forms. In short, the Libertarians endorse the abolishment of just about every facet of the government, in exchange for privatization. This includes private law enforcement, private ownership of National Parks, and private maintenance of all transportation infrastructure, just to name a few of the Libertarian proposals. Outside of a basic central judicial system, the Libertarian platform would count on state and community bodies to make all decisions, and private industry to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of the government. While we are firm believers in the Free Market Economy, and in not allowing Big Government to overstep its bounds, the Libertarian proposal goes way too far for our tastes. We do believe that there is a need for the federal government — we need to clean it up, not scrap it. Our positions are represented all over the Score, especially in the Government & Politics category.

— • —
Selected Quotes from the Libertarian Platform

The Libertarians on Freedom of Religion:

We condemn the attempts by parents or any others -- via kidnappings or conservatorships -- to force children to conform to any religious views.

...and on Families and Children:

Families and households are private institutions, which should be free from government intrusion and interference. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs, without interference by government -- unless they are abusing the children.

So, which is it?

More on Families and Children:

...a child may not be able to fully exercise his or her rights in the context of family life. However, children always have the right to establish their maturity by assuming administration and protection of their own rights, ending dependency upon their parents or other guardians, and assuming all responsibilities of adulthood. A child is a human being and, as such, deserves to be treated justly.

So if little six-year-old Petey doesn't want to eat his lima beans, and wants to stay up past 9PM, he can just secede from his family and strike out on his own?

Still more from Families and Children:

We recognize that the determination of child abuse can be very difficult. Only local courts should be empowered to remove a child from his or her home, with the consent of the community.

The consent of the community? What does that mean?

The Libertarians on American Indian Rights:

Indians should have their property rights restored, including rights of easement, access, hunting, and fishing.

So, who gets the land — the current homeowner, or the displaced Navajo? Well, in case your home was once Indian land, you may need to defend yourself when the Libertarians invite them to take it back; the Libertarian platform has this to say on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

We oppose all laws at any level of government restricting, regulating or requiring the ownership, manufacture, transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition. We oppose all laws requiring registration of firearms or ammunition. We support repeal of all gun control laws. We demand the immediate abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Yeah, we can just sell them in gun vending machines. If you happen to be shot by a fellow Libertarian's unregistered assault weapon, and are in need of medical assistance, the Libertarians propose the following (under Poverty and Unemployment):

We seek the elimination of occupational licensure, which prevents human beings from working in whatever trade they wish. We call for the abolition of all federal, state and local government agencies that restrict entry into any profession, such as education and law, or regulate its practice.

Boy, we can't wait to go to an untrained, unlicensed doctor in this brave new world.

And how do we pay these unlicensed doctors (and everyone else)? Well, the section on Inflation and Depression spells that out for us:

Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item, such as gold coins denominated by units of weight. We support the right to private ownership of and contracts for gold.

We call for the repeal of all legal tender laws and of all compulsory governmental units of account, as well as the elimination of all government fiat money and all government minted coins. All restrictions upon the private minting of coins must be abolished, so that minting will be open to the competition of the free market.

There are no laws against barter between individuals, so we're not sure what that first part is meant to protect. The second part would effectively eliminate the national currency system and replace it with something like economic chaos.

If this kind of Libertarian world isn't quite your bag, you can always secede:

We support the right of political entities, private groups and individuals to renounce their affiliation with any government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those governments, while in turn accepting no support from the government from which they seceded. ... Exercise of this right, like the exercise of all other rights, does not remove legal and moral obligations not to violate the rights of others.

Sounds like you don't even have to move in order to secede! Then again, with the Libertarian style of government, exactly what is there to even secede from?

If you do secede, and form your own foreign nation, the Libertarians will apparently refuse to deal with you:

The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration.

This position is unbelievable given the Libertarians' stance on Immigration:

We call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally.

Open borders, plus right of secession, plus total isolationism. We'd say they're setting us back a thousand years, but this equation more accurately reflects the state of human civilization twenty thousand years ago.

— • —
What the Hell Do Libertarians & ColecoVision Have in Common?

As we've said, one of the main thrusts of the Libertarian platform is the privatization of almost everything that the government manages today, and transportation is no exception.

We demand the return of America's railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of airports, air traffic control systems, public roads and the national highway system.

They demand privatization of railroads, airports, air traffic control systems, buses, and taxis — oh, and the public roads and the highway system as well. In order to privatize something that is currently funded by taxes, a means of private financing is needed. Sure, some of the transportation sectors could be migrated to private funding pretty easily; a private airline would need private air traffic control, so they would contract with the private air traffic control companies and pass on those costs to the consumer in the form of air traffic control fees on plane tickets. Many private transportation funding issues aren't even that difficult.

But what about the roads? Right now, road and highway maintenance is funded via taxes, which would presumably no longer be the case in a privatized model. The only way we could think of to fund a private road system would be a usage based fee; and to us, that means tolls. Lots of tolls. And they could be anywhere.

When we came to this realization, we found ourselves waxing nostalgic about a video game we played back in the 1980s — ColecoVision's Fortune Builder. In case you aren't familiar with the wonders of 1980s console video games, here's a little background on that game from GameFAQs.com:

In Fortune Builder, you build roads and bridges like in SimCity, but you are more of a developer than a mayor or zoning authority. You also build resorts, amusement parks, stadiums, marinas, docks, casinos, ski lodges, factories, condos, cottages, apartment blocks, oil wells, drilling rigs, fishing fleets, mines, etc. ... Well connected roadways are also vital, as no one can visit a resort without roads, and the factory cannot operate without roads to bring in raw materials and to ship out the finished goods.

One of the elements you could develop for your digital city was the toll road. At first, we used tolls sparingly — they were much more expensive to build than roads were. Then, one day, we built a big block of tolls in the shape of a rectangle, with a single road leading into it. We watched as a small black dot — representing a person in the game — "drove" into the block of tolls...and never came back out. As far as we could tell, he spent the next three years driving around paying tolls, until the game ended. We thought that was great!

Pretty soon, tolls were our favorite things to build. We had tolls lined up one after another all in a row, we had tolls outside of gas stations, malls, and hotels, we had tolls at the ends of driveways in our housing complexes, and at every intersection. Before long, tolls had almost taken the place of roads entirely. And since our little simulated people had no choice but to drive to work, and back home, and to the mall, and to the movie theatre, they had no choice but to pay our tolls. All our tolls. The picture below is a screen capture from a recent round of Fortune Builder that we played on an emulator (hey, we still own the original cartridge, which makes this legal!). All those little "huts" in the roadways are tolls.

Fortune Builder screen capture — with lots of tolls!


Thus, the link between Libertarians and ColecoVision — lots and lots of tolls. Our Fortune Builder town full of tolls, created twenty years ago, could turn out to be an eerie first glimpse of a world gone Libertarian. We picture living in such a town being something like this:


(You will need the latest Flash Player to view the above animation.)

Could this chilling tale be a window into the world of Libertarian rule? Maybe, maybe not — but we don't think that our vision is any more outlandish than the actual platform it is meant to poke fun at.

Taken in what we believe is its intended entirety, the Libertarian platform attempts to create something like a utopian commune existing on a political island separate from the rest of the world. This commune would have no central regulation for its monetary system, legislation or law enforcement; in fact, we'd be hard pressed to specify exactly what powers would remain with the government under the Libertarian system.

So, we could embrace the Libertarian ideal, and work toward a Libertarian world where we'll all just wander the earth — free from borders and passports, tracking deer with the Indians through the middle of the Wal∗Mart, bartering some extra ammo for a bottle of rye, allowing our six-year-old children to strike out on their own and make their precocious ways in the world, enjoying our unlimited freedom...and paying tolls. Lots and lots of tolls.

Or, we can take the good ideas from the Libertarians, and discard the rest. The same can be said of any political party, and this is exactly the method that we recommend. If you research the ideas already in existence, weigh them rationally, choose what works, and fill in the rest with your own ideas, then when it comes time to cast your vote, you will be able to decide who best matches your own platform, and not just who belongs to a given political party that really doesn't represent your opinions at all.

— • —

More information on Fortune Builder
http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/coleco/review/585489.html

Fortune Builder Unofficial Tricks, Tips, and Game Guide
http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/coleco/file/fortune_builder.txt

ADAMEm Emulator: Runs Fortune Builder
http://www.komkon.org/~dekogel/adamem.html

Virtual ColecoVision Emulator: Won't run Fortune Builder
http://www.tripletsandus.com/80s/80s_games/coleco.htm

ColecoVision Game ROMs (We recommend following applicable laws)
http://www.tripletsandus.com/80s/80s_games/coleco.htm
http://www.videogames.org/html/ColecoVisionStuff/Docs/docs.html
http://www.theoldcomputer.com/Libarary's/Emulation/ROMs_summary.htm
http://atarifun.com/ColecoVisionroms.html

[Note: Please note that this Score entry was written based on the Libertarian Party Platform as it existed in February of 2005. The links to the platform have been changed using the Wayback Machine to link to the platform as it existed back then. We have not rechecked the platform to see if any of our issues have been addressed, and it is not our desire to do so. Whether some of the individual issues have been changed, it is still our position that the overall approach of the Libertarian Party is flawed as we have described above. — Ed.]


— • —
[  Filed under: % Civil Liberties  % Government & Politics  % Greatest Hits  % Two Percent Toons  ]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/tpc-trkbk.cgi/68

Comments (33)

% Trackback » 2005.02.25 (Fri) 12:51
"Falling Off the Libertarian Train" from A Stitch in Haste

The small-l libertarians (my term, not theirs) over at The Two-Percent Company commit the ultimate sacrilege -- fisking the Large-L Libertarian Party platform. And they get it 100% right. [More]


% Trackback » 2005.02.25 (Fri) 15:46
"Quote of the Day" from Alarming News

So, we could embrace the Libertarian ideal, and work toward a Libertarian world where we'll all just wander the earth -- free from borders and passports, tracking deer with the Indians through the middle of the Wal-Mart, bartering some extra... [More]


% Trackback » 2005.02.25 (Fri) 15:46
"Quote of the Day" from Alarming News

So, we could embrace the Libertarian ideal, and work toward a Libertarian world where we'll all just wander the earth -- free from borders and passports, tracking deer with the Indians through the middle of the Wal-Mart, bartering some extra... [More]


Djin Astrovich, 2005.02.26 (Sat) 11:53 [Link] »

Of course the first mistake that you make is equate the platform of the Libertarian Party, a political organization, with the beliefs of Libertarianism, a political philosophy. I hope you recognize that there is a difference and that there are arguments among libertarians. The two big parties don't associate themselves with a philosophy, and therefore are open to participate in any kind of populism. That is also why they don't have a pre-written platform. The main parties are more like coalitions rather than representatives of a ph ilosophical approach. The same, although to a lesser extent, is true of the LP. I am a libertarian that voted for Bush, because the LP were a bunch of ignorant fools this election cycle.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.02.26 (Sat) 19:18 [Link] »

Actually, no.

What we did was evaluate the Libertarian Party Platform and point out the apparent contradictions, utopian idealism, and craziness which we saw in it. Never once did we directly equate the Libertarian Party with the philosophy of libertarianism (a philosophy which we equate to placing high importance on civil liberties). In point of fact, we went to some lengths in the beginning of the post to point out the differences that we saw between those who think of themselves as small-L libertarians and the big-L Libertarian Party, and even postulated that many people who call themselves Libertarians are really libertarians.

We also mentioned that we ourselves are small-L libertarians, in that we hold civil liberties to be of monumental importance. So of course we weren't equating the beliefs of the Libertarian Party — which we do not agree with — with the philosophy of libertarianism — which we absolutely agree with.

Based upon our analysis of the Libertarian Party Platform, the Libertarian Party takes the philosophy of libertarianism to a highly illogical extreme. Does that mean that every candidate or every member of the Libertarian Party takes this philosophy to the same extreme? Absolutely not. But it does mean that the formal policies of the Libertarian Party do go to such an extreme, and that's what we were talking about in our post.

We agree (and we pointed out in our post) that the two main parties do not truly have platforms, and we agree that this is done at least in part in order to allow for more mass appeal. Personally, we think this approach is poor since we favor getting more information into the hands and minds of the voters. It is clear that the Democrats and Republicans do not share our opinion here.

We have one question for you — you state that you consider yourself to be a libertarian, which we take to mean that you place high importance on civil liberties. Assuming that is what you meant by your statement, why on earth did you vote for Bush? We understand that the Libertarian candidate didn't thrill you, but in a two man race between Kerry and Bush, Kerry quite clearly seems to be the candidate who would be favored by civil libertarians (small-L here), even if only by default.

Are we missing something?



Ian Gibson, 2005.03.15 (Tue) 09:10 [Link] »

I agree with your specific criticisms, but think you are way off in stating that "The Libertarian state is one which, if it were able to be applied, would be a virtual utopia".

How so? If it was applied, then after a short time, virtually everything would be owned by a tiny number of private corporations & individuals (they could even privatize the air we breathe - who would stop them?), who could then use this huge power any way they saw fit.

Without any regulatory controls or anti-monopoly provisions, things would rapidly descend into a 'Hell on Earth' for the vast majority of individuals.

I don't see how giving absolute power to private entities would yield any better outcomes than when governments have had absolute power; why is it supposed by Libertarians that because it's Captialism rather than Socialism, the entities with all the power will somehow be benevolent with it?

And let it not be said that the market will punish undesirable business practices - when you are the only game in town you can decide the rules, just like with your toll booths (although it would be hilarious to see a line of 6 or 7 interstates running alongside each other, competing for business!).

Like you, I consider myself a 'civil libertarian', but not a 'Libertarian'. The Libertarians' economic policies are another example of an ideology taken to its' illogical conclusion - in this case, market fundamentalism.

Keep up the good work!



The Two Percent Company, 2005.03.15 (Tue) 11:32 [Link] »

Ian,

Thanks for the comment. As a note, we think we are in total agreement with you. What we were trying to say was:

The Libertarian state is one which, if it were able to be applied, would be a virtual utopia; but as applied to the real world, the Libertarian platform just isn't feasible.

So, if we became a Libertarian country right now, the fact that not everyone is benevolent would completely derail us, and we'd descend into anarchy. This is clearly not our definition of a utopia. If (and this is a massive "if") everyone was benevolent — people, corporations, and foreign countries and groups included — then we could apply Libertarian principles to the country and we'd have, arguably, a utopia. That's what we were trying to get at by saying "if it were able to be applied." In retrospect, we could have been a little more clear about that point.

Anyway, we completely agree that in reality (as opposed to in theory or in the abstract), the Libertarian platform would bring about a chaotic way of life that wouldn't help the average Joe (or average Mr. Brown).



% Trackback » 2005.05.17 (Tue) 10:15
"Truth is Stranger than Blogging" from A Stitch in Haste

In this February blogpost about "big-L" versus "small-l" libertarianism, I quoted a blog called The ... [More]


Xeric, 2005.10.17 (Mon) 18:27 [Link] »

The most obvious point that you miss is in your tolls analogy.

Do you think roads are free if not payed for with little toll booths? You already do pay a toll every time you go to the gas station, every time you pull into your driveway and every time you pull into a Walmart Parking Lot. This toll is called taxes and they are levied on gas at the gas station, on property at home and purchases at the stores.

Trying looking at this point, Walmart has a parking lot, but you don't pay at a little toll booth every time you pull into it's parking lot. The parking lot was not Free. Maintenance to the parking lot is not free, but Walmart pays for it's upkeep and maintenance to ease commerce. So, that you will come and buy things.

Now you as a consumer you still pay for this parking lot and it's maintenance through your purchases. The point is that Walmart is going to find the best price on acceptable maintenance and construction of this parking lot, because it is spending it's own money.

The government on the other had is spending our money. It has no responsibility to find the best price for this service and has a track record of doing a really poor job at it. If your thinking we can just make government do a better job at spending our money, your wrong. These positions within government will always attract the same type of people. The only solution is to take their money and authority away.

By the way the flash presentation display a very pedestrian understanding of the topic, please try a little harder if you are going to go through all the trouble.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.10.17 (Mon) 20:27 [Link] »

Xeric,

Well, we'd say that you missed the point, but frankly, you missed so many that we feel the need pluralize.

First off, we certainly understand that roads are paid for today via taxes. That's the whole point of the exercise here, man. If roads are transferred to private ownership, and the taxes currently supporting their upkeep no longer do so, how will road maintenance be funded?

You try to draw a parallel to a store parking lot, but your analogy omits the fact that private roads would more than likely be used for more than one purpose. See, if someone parks in the Wal-Mart parking lot, they are going to Wal-Mart. Period. So Wal-Mart can recover their costs by raising their prices. In a strip mall, these same costs would be carried by the owner of the property, who would pass the costs along to the stores that rent space from him. Simple, right?

Now let's look at privatized roads, rather than parking lots. Any given main road in a populated area has many stores along its length. People who drive on this road may be going to one or more of these stores, or to none at all. Who should own the road and bear the cost of maintaining it? One of these stores? That doesn't really make sense, does it? Would all the stores agree to chip in and support the upkeep of the road, even though many — if not most — of them would, presumably, be paying for far more of the maintenance than dictated by their own customers' road usage? Heck, people don't even have to be going to any of these stores — they may just be passing through, which means they end up using the road for free. The only plan that actually "makes sense" (though it actually doesn't; it's just the only way to accommodate the Libertarian proposal) is to charge tolls to the drivers to traverse the road. That way, they pay for the usage of the road in any case, for whatever reason — as they do now, with state and federal taxes — whether or not they are actually going to be patronizing a particular store on that road.

Of course, the Libertarian platform doesn't even specify who would own a given road — it could be anyone, including an entity not represented anywhere along the entire length of the road. In this scenario, how does the road's owner collect money to cover his maintenance costs? As far as we can see (as we said in our post), tolls are the only way. If you can think of another way, please fill us in. You haven't provided one in your original comment.

In regard to your comment regarding our animation — it's a fucking joke. Jesus Christ in a taxi cab, it was supposed to be an intentionally oversimplified scenario. If you don't like the joke, that's fine with us, but based on your comment, you don't seem to understand it. We can't really help you there, Xeric.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.15 (Thu) 15:47 [Link] »

If you happen to be shot by a fellow Libertarian's unregistered assault weapon . . .

. . . are you any worse off than if you'd been shot with a five-shot revolver that was stolen from its registered owner? (Never mind that "assault weapon" is an essentially meaningless term coined to stir up fear.)

Has gun registration ever *in fact* done any substantial good? It has done substantial harm in a number of places. I don't like any policy that counts on the government to be free of corruption *forever*.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.15 (Thu) 15:52 [Link] »

Boy, we can't wait to go to an untrained, unlicensed doctor in this brave new world.

Well, if you must, but you could go to one whose diploma and certification by a private firm (analogous to Underwriters Labs) are open for inspection. You could even insist on one certified by this organization rather than that one, if you suspect one organization is lax or corrupt — an option not always available to you with monopolistic licensing.

See, it's cheap shots like this that make me think you haven't bothered to find out what we cranks really think.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.15 (Thu) 16:00 [Link] »

You don't say what's bad about secession, or neutrality in foreign affairs, or open borders, so it's hard to argue those points. Apparently the repudiation of such policies by modern mega-states is enough to prove to your satisfaction that the Declaration of Independence, Washington's Farewell Address, and Emma Lazarus's poem represent not only self-evident folly but Stone Age atavism.

If you do secede, and form your own foreign nation, the Libertarians will apparently refuse to deal with you: . . .

No, commerce continues. Nor do I see anything in there forbidding, for example, cooperation between states in pursuing felons. The plank is clearly directed against the practice of using tax money to take sides in foreign conflicts and to help "friendly" rulers beat down opposition either by force or by bribery.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.15 (Thu) 17:02 [Link] »

Next we come to privatization of the roads, and you start making an effort. The cartoon is funny but, y'know, the road as depicted could never be competitive with an outfit that sells monthly or yearly subscriptions, makes fare-sharing arrangements with other road-companies to eliminate interchange gates, subsidizes tolls with billboards ...

A libertarian policy is one of humility. I don't know what solutions a million enterprises will produce if the state gets out of this business or that, but I bet they (not "it") will be better than the one solution conceived by a handful of politicians, who fancy themselves experts on everything, and founded on compulsion.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.15 (Thu) 21:37 [Link] »

Anton, please, take a breather. If you keep posting comments one by one, we'll never get a word in edgewise. If that happens to be your nefarious plot, well, good on ya, it's working so far. If you're actually attempting to engage in useful discourse, though, we'd suggest that rapid-fire "sound-bites" aren't the best way to go about it.

To our other readers: Anton's burst of comments are not the only correspondence going on here. In the interests of full disclosure, Anton originally e-mailed us directly with the following questions:

Have you ever tried *asking* a libertarian why they don't expect disaster to result from implementing their platform? Or do you just assume that none of them have ever thought beyond the sound-bite?

As we replied to him, we've communicated on this subject with plenty of libertarians, and their answers tend to range from "Well, yeah, the Libertarian Party platform is a joke," to "Well, there are some good ideas in there, but I don't agree with it across the board." Our response to such answers is our usual reaction to such an admission: we wonder why such folks consider themselves members of the Libertarian Party. Quite simple, really.

We also took Anton up on his offer, and posed his suggested question back to him:

Assuming for a moment that you are a Libertarian (we could be wrong, since you haven't told us that you are), then we'll ask: why don't you expect disaster to result from implementing your platform? If your answer is that you don't agree with the entire platform, then you're proving our point above. If your answer is that you do agree with the entire platform, then we certainly want to hear your rationale.

Anton replied directly to us, and his reply was rather revealing:

I confess I haven't looked at the LP platform in at least a decade.

...

On principle I'm an anarchist, because otherwise I'd advocate coercing others to actively support (at least through taxes) schemes that they may find repugnant, and that revolts me. But in practice I imagine I'd be comfortable with a "meso-libertarian" regime.

Frankly, that explains a lot about where Anton is coming from. Apparently, his primary objection to our characterization of the Libertarian Party platform is that he is an anarchist. Well, if that's the case, then we can see why he tends to favor implementing the Libertarian platform — his idea of the perfect society just happens to be our idea of disaster.

Sorry, Anton, but if that's where you're coming from, there's little point in arguing the points in the platform one by one. It's not that you differ with us on our opinion of the LP platform — it's that you have an entirely different worldview, one which, frankly, alarms us somewhat. Hey, there's a little anarchist in us as well, and we have no love for the abuses of the government, but taken to the extreme that you and the Libertarian Party seem to advocate, it's just not rational to us. So when we argue that implementing a certain plank in the platform would be disastrous, the outcome that you see is the very anarchy that you desire. Judging from the picture on your website, you look like a guy who could take care of himself in such a chaotic social climate; but for us, one of the most important points of government is to protect those who can't take care of themselves. If you don't agree with that statement, then we will certainly never agree on what constitutes a good and rational form of government.

That said, we'll be happy to answer the specific points you've raised in your comments, given a little time to respond. In some cases, the disparity between our stances seems to be caused largely by our different leanings (anarchist versus civil libertarians), while in others, your arguments seem to exhibit significant flaws. Give us a chance to reply and you'll see what we're talking about. But again, if all of your points boil down to a belief that all government is bad, then there's probably very little to talk about.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 00:52 [Link] »

Would you rather I had posted my three unrelated points in one big block? Whatever. This little bitty text-box makes me want to break things down more; but I certainly wouldn't want you to feel bullied by the big bad bearded brute.

An entirely different worldview, you say? David Friedman likes to say that most people want essentially the same kind of world -- one where our safety, wealth, personal freedom and so on tend to increase rather than decline -- but disagree on how to achieve it. I've seen nothing here to contradict David's assumption.

So when we argue that implementing a certain plank in the platform would be disastrous, the outcome that you see is the very anarchy that you desire.

I'm not sure I understand this right. If you're saying that I agree with you that such policies would lead to the collapse of civilization, and the only disagreement is that you fear such an outcome while I welcome it -- well, thanks for reinforcing my first impression of you as shallow and intellectually irresponsible.

Did the A-word blind you to where I argued that "extreme" libertarian policies (broadly similar to USA policy before Lincoln, minus the part about enforcing slavery) would not have the scary results you imagine?

When I say "anarchy" or "anarchism" I mean only the literal sense: absence of rulers, which is not the same as absence of rules. Indeed the political process is by nature a destroyer of rules: what's right today may be wrong tomorrow. It's harder to plan for the future when the legislature can at any moment make your money worthless or your livelihood a crime. (What's good about the USA is that its lawgivers have been relatively restrained in this, most of the time.)

Without what the LP calls "the cult of the omnipotent state" there would be no drug-gangs, no organized fanatics with a grudge against "America", no Great Depression, no Permanent Healthcare Crisis.

Judging from the picture on your website, you look like a guy who could take care of himself in such a chaotic social climate;

Har har. Didja happen to notice that that picture was taken on Halloween? Yeah, I'm tall, with no conspicuous disabilities, a member of no recognized Victim Class; I'm also sedentary, myopic (could barely see my gunsights with those nonprescription shades on), short of breath, with chronic pain in various joints, and I can count on one hand the punches I've thrown in my 45 years. The pistol is real and my aim is not bad, but that's nothing special; anyone with one good hand and one good eye can learn to shoot well enough to deter most badguys.

but for us, one of the most important points of government is to protect those who can't take care of themselves.

Of course! I just don't agree that a monopolistic territorial state is a good form of government: other models could be more benign and more effective.

It's not obvious how the little old ladies who have lost their homes to eminent domain, or been shot in their beds by narcs who got the wrong address from a junkie, or whose doctor has been jailed for providing effective doses of pain drugs, would be worse off in an anarchy where their savings had not been eaten away by taxes and inflation, where they had not been deliberately discouraged from acquiring the tools and training to defend themselves, where the cost of medicine had not been driven sky-high by subsidies.



Anton Sherwood, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 01:34 [Link] »

Ian Gibson:

If [LP policy] was applied, then after a short time, virtually everything would be owned by a tiny number of private corporations & individuals . . .

And you believe this why? Can you name three monopolies that persist(ed) without state support?

The regulatory state creates economies of scale that make businesses bigger than they would otherwise be: the necessity of a staff of compliance specialists is more of a burden on a small company than on a big one, and indeed regulatory policy sometimes expressly favors the bigger company. (I have in mind INS rules where a company with >N employees is presumed to have a valid reason for bringing in a foreigner, while smaller firms have to prove it. (I worked for an immigration lawyer in 1990-3.))

Without any regulatory controls or anti-monopoly provisions, things would rapidly descend into a 'Hell on Earth' for the vast majority of individuals.

And so you put your faith in the biggest, least accountable monopolists of all.

I don't see how giving absolute power to private entities

which no one proposes to do

would yield any better outcomes than when governments have had absolute power; why is it supposed by Libertarians that because it's Captialism rather than Socialism, the entities with all the power will somehow be benevolent with it?

Private entities can be sued, and sometimes their officers can be sued personally. (Most Libertarians, I believe, would make it easier to "pierce the corporate veil".) State entities can be sued only if they give permission, and their officers are practically immune. Legislators are absolutely immune from any accountability beyond the theoretical possibility of losing an election (which they are working to eliminate, through campaign censorship and suchlike).

Many libertarians would abolish the limited liability corporation (an entity to which the state sells a partial immunity for its torts). I don't know whether the LP has a position on this.

(Yes, even anarchotopia has civil courts.)

( . . . it would be hilarious to see a line of 6 or 7 interstates running alongside each other, competing for business!).

Wouldn't necessarily be the same kinds of roads. Highways compete with railroads and airlines (though the price of each is distorted by subsidies). People commute across San Francisco Bay on bridges (by car or bus), boats and subway; likely there would be more choices if the counties didn't control public transport so tightly.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 19:07 [Link] »

Anton,

Remember when we asked you to give us a chance to reply before you shot off more comments? Turns out that you aren't listening. In addition, you seem to be unwilling or unable to comprehend what we're writing, and quite intent upon misrepresenting us.

So, to help make this more clear, we are temporarily disabling comments on this post until we have a chance to reply to your mostly misguided statements. We will open them back up after we reply. Stick around if you want to understand why you are dead wrong not only about many aspects of the Libertarian platform, but also about our views as we have clearly stated them.

In reply to the earlier of your most recent comments, you're just making the same freaking mistakes over and over and over again. Namely, you harbor the misguided belief that a world without any government can somehow enforce rules (though you give no indication of how this would work), you seem to think that all people are capable of behaving benevolently and wisely (despite what we experience from and read about these same people every day), and you make the illogical leap that when one facet of one law is being abused the answer is the absence of all government. No, no, and no. All wrong. And yet, these three themes are repeated throughout just about every statement you have made.

For example, you say:

When I say "anarchy" or "anarchism" I mean only the literal sense: absence of rulers, which is not the same as absence of rules.

If you have rules but no rulers — no one to conceive of, enforce, or arbitrate those rules — then there are no rules. This is just the same old Libertarian crap all over again. If you have no one in charge, then there really aren't any rules, and you do have a ruleless society — because the only rule is: "If I can kick the shit out of you, I win." That's not a particularly "utopian" society in our opinion. It's the same boring Libertarian idiocy that expects people to act with mutual beneficence and to respect others' rights automatically. The human race has pretty fucking firmly established that they aren't capable of that on a large scale, or, hell, even on a small scale in many cases. That is why the Libertarian Party platform is laughable, and anyone who really thinks it makes sense is fucking smoking crack (no, we're not literally saying that you're smoking crack, Anton — we wouldn't want to "offend" you again).

Yes, we know that you think there is a civil court in the Libertarian world, but that's just one more instance in which the Libertarian platform (and your take on it) makes no sense. First, we don't recall any mention of a civil court system in the platform. Second, is this "civil court" actually a collection of private civil courts competing for business? Assuming they are private, why the fuck would someone ever agree to appear before one of these courts if they were being sued? If we were in that position, why would we bother showing up? What would compel us? And say this court rendered a verdict against us — well, gee, fuck off, we just formed our own private court (no professional licensure, remember?) and cleared our own names, while at the same time judging against the plaintiff, who now owes us one million dollars (or beads or shells or chickens or Monopoly money — whatever we use as our personal currency). Or is it a government court? If that's the case, then it leads us back to our original question about the Libertarian platform — just what kind of government, if any, is it really suggesting? It's far from clear. Go back and re-read it, and perhaps you'll see what we mean. Or perhaps not.

If you're saying that I agree with you that such policies would lead to the collapse of civilization, and the only disagreement is that you fear such an outcome while I welcome it -- well, thanks for reinforcing my first impression of you as shallow and intellectually irresponsible.

Thanks for reinforcing our first impression of you as a severely deluded, pompous asshole. And no, that's not what we're saying. We're saying that both we and you seem to see the Libertarian policies leading to anarchy, and we feel that such anarchy is the collapse of civilization, while you don't seem to share that opinion of anarchy itself. In fact, that's exactly what we said at the beginning of this very Rant. Our exact words were:

The main difference is that the Libertarian platform advocates an almost total lack of government and a level of freedom that, while laudable in the abstract, leans too close to anarchy. The Libertarian state is one which, if it were able to be applied, would be a virtual utopia; but as applied to the real world, the Libertarian platform just isn't feasible.
[Our emphasis]

So what's the hubbub, bub? We have been pretty clear all along that we are not anarchists, and that one of our biggest problems with the Libertarian platform is that we see it leading to anarchy. You have stated that you are an anarchist, and as such we imagine that you would like the Libertarian platform. Pretty straightforward. But hey, don't let our clear statements of our opinions get in your way — go ahead and misinterpret and insult us to your heart's content.

Without what the LP calls "the cult of the omnipotent state" there would be no drug-gangs, no organized fanatics with a grudge against "America", no Great Depression, no Permanent Healthcare Crisis.

You know what else? Without laws making recreational drugs illegal, there would be no drug gangs. You know what we favor? Legalizing drugs. See how we can solve this problem without eradicating all vestiges of government? That's what we're talking about here, Anton. From where we're standing, you're trying to kill a cockroach in your house by demolishing your entire town. It's massive overkill — just grab a can o' Raid and have at it. Isn't that easier, more effective, and less destructive?

I just don't agree that a monopolistic territorial state is a good form of government: other models could be more benign and more effective.

Dude...we obviously agree that there are big problems with the current government since much of our website is about coming up with different solutions than the bullshit ones already in place, which have been fucking up our world for longer than we've been a part of it. Are you so blinded by the fact that we think the Libertarian platform is silly that you didn't bother to notice that?

And just because the current government in place today has problems, it doesn't follow that the answer is the removal of all government. We disagree completely with that assertion. We believe that applying rational changes to the current government is a far better solution than wiping it out and freeballing for the rest of time. Are our solutions perfect? Hell, no, but to us there's no question that they're better than having no government at all.

Look, our position has been and continues to be that the Libertarian Party platform is ridiculous and unimplementable. You appear to be arguing that our opinion is incorrect. Half the time, you seem to be defending the Libertarian platform, while the other half you seem to be arguing for a system that frankly is not the same one that the platform describes. As a result, we have no idea what your views are or what system you are even trying to defend. Frankly, your 1992 or 1994 campaign speech and "non credo" are laughably lightweight and offer nothing more helpful than the idea that "government should just not do jack shit." That's a non-answer, as far as we're concerned. It's pretty easy to come up with "not what we have now," and pretty tough to suggest a workable alternative. So, for the purposes of framing this discussion, if you think that the policies of the Libertarian platform comprise a "more benign and more effective" model than the current one, or than any of our suggestions, then all we can say is that we firmly disagree with you, for the dozens of reasons we've already been through on our site. If you don't think that the Libertarian platform evokes the "more benign and more effective" model to which you refer, then seriously: what the fuck are you arguing?

It's not obvious how the little old ladies who have lost their homes to eminent domain, or been shot in their beds by narcs who got the wrong address from a junkie, or whose doctor has been jailed for providing effective doses of pain drugs, would be worse off in an anarchy where their savings had not been eaten away by taxes and inflation, where they had not been deliberately discouraged from acquiring the tools and training to defend themselves, where the cost of medicine had not been driven sky-high by subsidies.

Okay, really: little old ladies?! Talk about your alarmist, slippery slope nonsense! But, since you brought it up, oh, yes, little old ladies — those bastions of physical power, celerity, and uncompromising force of will — would certainly thrive in a world with no centralized law or law enforcement to protect their safety and their interests. What are they saving without taxes and inflation? The cowry shells they've earned from doing laundry and giving hummers to desperate old men? That ought to come in handy, if their homes are suddenly invaded by arts and crafts teachers who can be bought off.

The bottom line is that we oppose stupid legislation as it comes up instead of deciding to toss out the entire government when one law has one bad effect. For example, we oppose abuses of eminent domain and believe that the Supreme Court ruling was misguided and dangerous. We do not therefore advocate the removal of all government powers, and we have no fucking clue why you think there's a logical connection there. In addition — and this is the really important part, Anton — who is abusing this clear legislative loophole in the eminent domain regulations to the detriment of the hypothetical little old ladies you are so worried about? The answer: the very fucking same private enterprises that you feel should be trusted with so much more power in your brave new world. Wake up — corporations and private enterprises are no better equipped than the government to run things. What the fuck is it about their past behaviors that would make you think any different?

Yes, we know, you aren't suggesting that private enterprises have any power. Nor should the government, in your fantasy land. This despite your assertions that there are still, for example, civil courts which need to be run by someone. If it isn't the government, and it isn't a private enterprise, then who is it? No answer from the Libertarians there, huh? This is what we mean when we say that the platform is exceedingly vague, Anton. At any rate, with no rulers, there can be no enforceable rules. Guess what — that's anarchy! You seem to be saying that you favor that approach (your words, not ours), and we have clearly established that we do not. We know what anarchy is and we're not over-inflating the term — we're not assuming it's the mass hysteria of dogs and cats living together — and to us, an anarchist state is not a good thing. That is the basic cause of our disagreement — you believe that in the absence of all rulers there can still be enforceable rules. We don't see how that's a rational assumption, as we've said above. That is why we don't think that continuing this discussion makes much sense.

In short, while you were busy taking pot shots at the specific issues we took aim at in the LP platform, you completely missed the larger point which underlies our entire stance on the platform — namely, that it is impossible to implement in the real world. Literally impossible. Not going to happen. Period. Why? Because it is vague, and contradictory, and it relies on the basic benevolence and wisdom of a population that has proven itself to be neither benevolent nor wise. All three of these issues render it fucking useless in the real world. That is why we say it simply won't work. In all your feverish, unrealistic pontification about old ladies and phantom civil courts, you haven't offered us any reason to think otherwise.

Hell, just as one example, the Libertarian platform suggests that unfit parents are able to judge their own competence and voluntarily and wisely place their children with better-equipped guardians as needed. And you really think shit like that makes any sense? That's just the tip of the insane Libertarian iceberg, man. If you can't see the vast number of flaws like this that are strewn throughout the Libertarian platform, then we don't know what more we can say to you.

Oh, and in regard to our comment about your appearance: it was basically a light-hearted joke about your Halloween picture (yes, we knew it was a Halloween picture). Get over it. And anyway, since you did take it seriously, we're so sorry that you thought we overestimated your physical capabilities; what a terrible, awful insult that must be. You sit here lobbing ill-founded insults at us that stem from your misunderstanding of both our views and the Libertarian platform itself, we try to joke around with you, and you insult us further because of it? Get a fucking grip.

— • —

[Ed.: Comments are now temporarily closed until we have a chance to reply to all of Anton's comments above. This isn't something that we would normally do, but one week before Christmas with major site redesigns being finalized, we haven't set aside much time to reply to comments on posts from ten months ago. We will re-open comments as soon as our responses are ready to post.]



The Two Percent Company, 2006.10.26 (Thu) 10:54 [Link] »

At long last, our responses to the specific questions posed by Anton are ready. Yeah, we know it's been almost a year — it really wasn't our top priority, folks. The most important thing to note here is that these specific questions and answers weren't the crux of our disagreement with Anton. That point was what we've addressed already — that we believe that the Libertarian Platform requires a basic faith in the wisdom and benevolence of the average person that we simply don't share. If you take that into consideration, many of our answers to Anton's questions are pretty basic.

Anyway, in case you were keeping track, here you go. This is by no means exhaustive, and our previous replies to Anton should also be considered as part of the larger response, but we did want to address the specific questions, as promised. We'll address the rest of this post to Anton.

— • —

On the complete lack of gun control implicit in the Libertarian Platform, you said:

If you happen to be shot by a fellow Libertarian's unregistered assault weapon . . .

. . . are you any worse off than if you'd been shot with a five-shot revolver that was stolen from its registered owner? (Never mind that "assault weapon" is an essentially meaningless term coined to stir up fear.)

Has gun registration ever *in fact* done any substantial good? It has done substantial harm in a number of places. I don't like any policy that counts on the government to be free of corruption *forever*.

You are comparing two situations here. First, being shot by an AK-47 which was legally purchased under a Libertarian "government" (for lack of a better word) which requires no gun control laws at all, and second, being shot by a revolver which was bought legally under a gun control system that includes background checks and registration but was subsequently stolen from its rightful owner. Is that correct?

The first point you are making is that, either way, the person in question has been shot, and the gun in question won't lead to the perpetrator. In one case, it leads to the person from whom the gun was stolen, and in the other it leads nowhere since there is no registration. Correct? Here's the glaring problem with that line of reasoning — you are basically saying that because a law can't be perfectly enforced, we should therefore throw it out. That is not a rational stance. No law can be perfectly enforced, but we still keep them on the books, both as an incentive for people to avoid deleterious behaviors and because when such laws are enforceable under a given circumstance, they work quite well. Your analogy would lead us to the conclusion that we should also declare the theft of the gun in your comparison scenario "legal." After all, if it was illegal to steal it, but some guy stole it anyway, what use is the law, right? The same goes for shooting the person, since that can't be perfectly enforced, either. This is a common argument against gun control, but it simply doesn't hang together logically.

Your next point is that the term "assault weapon" is inflammatory. For our part, that's not how we see the word, and that wasn't why we used the term. However, for the sake of this discussion, we're happy to say "automatic rifle" instead.

Regarding the specific question of whether you are any better off being shot by a revolver than by an automatic rifle, the answer is plain: it depends. What is the range from which you were shot? Did one squeeze of the trigger release one bullet or a burst of bullets? These factors, and others, can absolutely make a difference in your injuries. That said, the question of which weapons to allow people to own and which to regulate or ban is certainly open to debate. Despite your comment, it is clear that certain weapons are capable of causing far greater injury and damage than others — a rational person would presumably agree. For example, any reasonable person (and not all Libertarian Party folks fall into that category, as Kip Esquire pointed out) would agree that private individuals should not be allowed to own nuclear weapons (for that matter, some would say nations shouldn't be allowed to either, but that's another story). Most people would also agree that tanks should be on the nicht list. It starts getting fuzzier in the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher area (though we are still firmly in the "fuck, no" camp), and non-mobile gun emplacements (again, we firmly say "no").

So where does the line get drawn? We're open to suggestions, but a system in which large automatic rifles are able to be owned but are kept only at licensed gun clubs sounds like a decent plan to us. In this way, people are free to own personal handguns and to keep them at home (for instance, for security purposes), and are also able to own automatic rifles (as well as Uzis and other such devices) while ensuring that they are used for the only rational and legitimate non-military purpose out there — recreation at a gun club. We're sure there are holes in this plan, but we happen to think there are holes in the competing plans as well.

Has gun registration ever done any good? Of course it has, and it's either foolish or ignorant to say otherwise. It has certainly helped in countless police investigations, and it's certainly stopped some people from obtaining guns (despite the NRA contingent who would have us all believe that every gun on the streets today is stolen). Has it caused harm? Probably so, but that doesn't lead to the conclusion that the system should be scrapped.

Hey, we don't trust the government, either. But that doesn't mean that scrapping gun registration is a better option than letting the government administer the system. In fact, it's quite the opposite. You see, we simply don't trust the government in power, whereas it appears you don't trust the concept of government itself. Again, we'll firmly disagree on this stance.

On the lack of medical licensing in the LP, you said:

Boy, we can't wait to go to an untrained, unlicensed doctor in this brave new world.

Well, if you must, but you could go to one whose diploma and certification by a private firm (analogous to Underwriters Labs) are open for inspection. You could even insist on one certified by this organization rather than that one, if you suspect one organization is lax or corrupt — an option not always available to you with monopolistic licensing.

See, it's cheap shots like this that make me think you haven't bothered to find out what we cranks really think.

We can already decide today what doctor to go to based on the text on their diplomas, so we don't see any benefit to the brave new Libertarian world of medicine. In addition, we quite like having laws that govern medical licensing. This is one of the areas in which we happen to think that the government is doing an okay job.

Could a system of private licensing and oversight work? Sure, but it could also be an abysmal failure. In our opinion, the system we have today is not a failure, and in fact it works quite well. Unless we saw the benefit of changing to the Libertarian approach — an approach that is not even remotely above outright corruption and abject failure — why would we support it?

On the odd LP ideas about personal secession and isolationism, you said:

You don't say what's bad about secession, or neutrality in foreign affairs, or open borders, so it's hard to argue those points. Apparently the repudiation of such policies by modern mega-states is enough to prove to your satisfaction that the Declaration of Independence, Washington's Farewell Address, and Emma Lazarus's poem represent not only self-evident folly but Stone Age atavism.

If you do secede, and form your own foreign nation, the Libertarians will apparently refuse to deal with you: . . .

No, commerce continues. Nor do I see anything in there forbidding, for example, cooperation between states in pursuing felons. The plank is clearly directed against the practice of using tax money to take sides in foreign conflicts and to help "friendly" rulers beat down opposition either by force or by bribery.

What's bad about secession? Well, in the Libertarian model, an individual can secede in place. That's directly from the platform, Anton. So, if Average Steve doesn't want to be a part of the United States, Steve can just secede himself out, even though he still lives within its borders. If there is no government to speak of from which to really secede and if borders mean nothing (which seems to be the Libertarian ideal), then this might not be such a big deal. But then again, we don't agree with that approach either. It bears repeating that if you are an anarchist, then we imagine that this is an acceptable scenario, but we are not anarchists. We believe that there is a huge difference between a limited government intent upon protecting individual liberties and the Libertarian government described in the party platform, which is, essentially, no well-defined government — or, in large part, no government at all.

Now, please show us where in the documents of the founding fathers it describes the ability for individual secession. We aren't aware of any such notion, and to us, the ability for every person in the country to secede on their own is just plain insane. Frankly, we're fuzzy on how you can think any differently. Remember, we aren't talking about the secession of a state (as you seem to be implying), or even a town or a community — the Libertarian Platform specifically allows a person to secede from the United States on their own. They don't have to move out of the country, they just announce their secession. The fact that children can do this as well is a whole other ball of wax.

As far as our comment about the new government not dealing with those who execute their own personal secession, that was partly a joke about the Libertarian stance on international relations (or the lack thereof, as the case may be). In our view, choosing to shut out the rest of the world and to have no formal relations with them is myopic and counterproductive. It may sound nice on paper to avoid foreign issues, but in reality, it just isn't possible to do so to the Libertarian extreme.

On the privatization of roads, you said:

Next we come to privatization of the roads, and you start making an effort. The cartoon is funny but, y'know, the road as depicted could never be competitive with an outfit that sells monthly or yearly subscriptions, makes fare-sharing arrangements with other road-companies to eliminate interchange gates, subsidizes tolls with billboards ...

A libertarian policy is one of humility. I don't know what solutions a million enterprises will produce if the state gets out of this business or that, but I bet they (not "it") will be better than the one solution conceived by a handful of politicians, who fancy themselves experts on everything, and founded on compulsion.

Yes, our plethora of toll booths was meant to be a joke, but think it through. You talk about monthly or annual subscriptions to roads. How would those be enforced? Hmm? Little booths? Or perhaps armed guards demanding to see your subscription permit? Maybe electronic gates triggered by privatized EZ Passes? In short, toll booths. Yeah, we couldn't think of another viable method of enforcement, either. Sounds like another system of imperfect enforcement to us. And if something can't be perfectly enforced, aren't we supposed to throw it out? We're sure we've heard that somewhere before. And speaking of enforcement: exactly how do we enforce "humility," which is so necessary in the Libertarian system? We'd also add "wisdom" and "benevolence" to the list of character traits that are not only unenforceable but are absurd to presume universally.

You know, Anton, sometimes it's the government protecting us from the corporations. That's one of the maddening things about the Libertarian stance — it seems to assume that private enterprises will naturally do a better job at all things than the government does...and as a few hundred years of capitalism-in-progress have demonstrated, that's simply not true. You can argue that corrupt government enables corrupt corporations all you want, but it's highly doubtful that the utter absence of any real government would either make corporations behave or disable their monopolistic and corrupt practices. To paraphrase Ian Malcolm, "Human nature finds a way." And, as much as it pains us to make this observation of our fellow homo sapiens, human nature is simply and clearly ill-prepared to function altruistically and cooperatively in an ungoverned society.



Terabanitoss, 2007.05.05 (Sat) 12:01 [Link] »

Hello
You are The Best!!!
G'night




Jason Spicer, 2007.05.06 (Sun) 04:46 [Link] »

Not sure how you could actually have anything resembling a nation in the LP "utopia". I don't think you can have a nation without a government. Essentially, there is no real difference between the LP platform and anarchy, and for all those people who actually think anarchy makes any sense, it's a terrific system for about 20 minutes. After that it devolves into feudalism, as strongmen set up fiefdoms and weaker folks choose up sides so they can survive.

Corporations and governments are just two different (but very similar) mechanisms for doing things at large scales. Neither is inherently superior to the other. One is generally (though firms like GM stand out as counterexamples) more efficient, and the other is generally more inclusive. Neither will tolerate anarchy, because both are embodiments of rule systems.

Oh, and if I'm not mistaken, the Democrats and Republicans rewrite their party platforms at each presidential nominating convention, so it's not surprising that they read like the campaign commercials of the nominees.



Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.03 (Sat) 02:15 [Link] »

Hosts, there appears to be a bug: twice now my post vanished when I hit Preview.



The Two Percent Company, 2007.11.03 (Sat) 09:56 [Link] »

Yes, there is a bug. As you described, the Preview button simply reloads the post, discarding the entered text. This started happening a few weeks ago, and we honestly have no idea what's going on since we didn't make any changes around that time. We've taken a cursory look at the problem, but we have no solid leads at this point.

Our apologies for the annoyance — we just haven't had much time to resolve this problem lately.



Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.03 (Sat) 18:13 [Link] »

Two years fly by, and again I find this page in my referral logs.

On gun control:

Here's the glaring problem with that line of reasoning you are basically saying that because a law can't be perfectly enforced, we should therefore throw it out.
Such a reading is consistent with my words, I guess, but my real contention is that we shouldn't judge laws by the effect they would have if they worked perfectly as advertised and with no side effects.

Has gun registration ever done any good? Of course it has, and it's either foolish or ignorant to say otherwise. It has certainly helped in countless police investigations . . . . Has it caused harm? Probably so, but that doesn't lead to the conclusion that the system should be scrapped.
Mea culpa: I was confusing registration with restrictions on ownership (which usually result in higher murder rates). Of course, registration has more than once enabled confiscation, which I guess is what I meant by "I don't like any policy that counts on the government to be free of corruption forever."
You see, we simply don't trust the government in power, whereas it appears you don't trust the concept of government itself.
Well, for most of my 47 years I've heard people marching and shouting and voting, early and often, for cleaner government; how soon do you expect that campaign to bear fruit?

To quote myself: "Im an anarchist not because I believe [good government] is logically impossible but because I believe it is practically impossible: to prevent such a state from mutating into a predator is a prohibitively difficult engineering problem, which does not lend itself to empirical tinkering." Bad government is a stable attractor.

We can already decide today what doctor to go to based on the text on their diplomas, so we don't see any benefit to the brave new Libertarian world of medicine. . . . Could a system of private licensing and oversight work? Sure, but it could also be an abysmal failure. In our opinion, the system we have today is not a failure, and in fact it works quite well.
Well, if you like it, you can recreate it: in Anarchia you can organize a voluntary House of Representatives on democratic lines, and have it appoint boards of experts; and you can even bind yourself by contract to follow those experts' advice, since you seem to dislike having other options. Seems to me such a system would be more credible than its governmental version, because it's dedicated to the task, rather than having such boards as a minor distraction from the real business of making war and arguing about abortion. (Or has anyone ever been elected on a platform of improving the licensing boards?) But apparently you think no entity can be reliable unless it has a monopoly backed with guns.
Unless we saw the benefit of changing to the Libertarian approach an approach that is not even remotely above outright corruption and abject failure why would we support it?
If a private institution is corrupt or ineffective, you go to its competitor. If a public institution is corrupt or ineffective, you're stuck with it. Have you made any hint of addressing this point?

But the broader answer to the question is: you'll choose the libertarian approach if you prefer the package. I cheerfully concede that there may be some services that you just can't get in Libertopia, just as there are some services that you can't get under the present regime. I'm willing to accept the existence of quacks, to take your example, if it's bundled with an end to the drug-war. I'll forgo the wonderful pictures of the outer planets if security theater goes with them. I'll live with the lack of mandatory nutrient labeling (I'll give my business to those merchants who do it anyway) if it means beef producers are allowed (!) to test for BSE. I'll dry my tears over the end to subsidies for this and that if it means we stop paying for them twice over in taxes.

You might amuse yourself by thinking about the question from the other side. Imagine that you live in an ungoverned society otherwise comparable to our own, with the same rat-race, the same crimes, the same number of kids who drift through school without learning to read, the same depletion of the fisheries, the same number of bombings in protest of Libertarian foreign policy . . . . I come along and say "Hey, we could solve all these problems by creating an authority with ultimate power over everything and everybody." Do you bite?

What's bad about secession? Well, in the Libertarian model, an individual can secede in place. That's directly from the platform, Anton. So, if Average Steve doesn't want to be a part of the United States, Steve can just secede himself out, even though he still lives within its borders.
And then he'd be immune to drug laws, licensing laws and eminent domain, but also excluded from the services of the city fire department, and he might find himself surrounded with border guards who'll find a way to end the anomaly by busting him for smuggling. I doubt that any significant number would secede individually; I suspect that the clause is in there to express the principle, so that if the inhabitants of a neighborhood should agree to secede from a city, or those of the Klamath watershed from the USA, one couldn't say "You can't do that, you're not a pre-existing governmental unit."
In our view, choosing to shut out the rest of the world and to have no formal relations with them is myopic and counterproductive.
I already addressed that point.


And speaking of enforcement: exactly how do we enforce "humility," which is so necessary in the Libertarian system?
Perhaps you misunderstand me. A libertarian order expresses humility by not enforcing the hubris that says "We have the single best answer."

We'd also add "wisdom" and "benevolence" to the list of character traits that are not only unenforceable but are absurd to presume universally.
But we do presume that J Random Stranger is not likely to rob us, or refuse to call 911 when occasion demands, or knowingly run us down in the crosswalk, even if no cops are nearby. Natural selection has decided that that presumption is cheaper, on average, than the alternative: distrusting everyone would cost us more, in effort and lost opportunities, than we expect to lose to defectors. The problem, of course, is that the stakes are raised when power is concentrated, and it's harder to watch the bureaucrats than to watch your neighbors.
You know, Anton, sometimes it's the government protecting us from the corporations. That's one of the maddening things about the Libertarian stance it seems to assume that private enterprises will naturally do a better job at all things than the government does...and as a few hundred years of capitalism-in-progress have demonstrated, that's simply not true. You can argue that corrupt government enables corrupt corporations all you want, but it's highly doubtful that the utter absence of any real government would either make corporations behave or disable their monopolistic and corrupt practices.

Government invented the limited liability corporations. The nearest thing to such a concept in common law is "the king can do no wrong." — What's your favorite example of something that government does better than the private sector? What horror of capitalism-in-progress was not made possible by legislation? Which cackling cabal of rail-barons burned Atlanta and Dresden?

It's true that every businessman would like to be a monopolist, and that many or most people are corruptible. So I prefer an open market, which does a very good job of resisting monopolies and tends (albeit imperfectly) to punish corruption, to the political sector, which is a monopoly by definition and thus is not compelled to even tweak its structure when corruption is exposed.

. . . human nature is simply and clearly ill-prepared to function altruistically and cooperatively in an ungoverned society.
So why are you so eager to have humans rule over you? That's the weirdest thing about statism: that you take every flaw in human nature as a reason to put more power in fewer hands, to replace the risk of local error with the risk of universal error, to deprive yourselves of alternatives to dealing with the corrupt.


Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.03 (Sat) 18:18 [Link] »

Jason Spicer: What do you mean by "nation" and why do you want one? The Italians didn't suddenly come into existence in 1860, or the Germans in 1871, or the Jews in 1948. The Chinese are distinctively Chinese wherever they settle. I have no fear that American culture would vanish if the USA were to dissolve; though you might have a harder time deciding whom to cheer for at the Olympics.

Anarchy means no rulers, not no rules. Social norms do not depend on government; think about it, if the definition of right and wrong had to come from government, how could we tell a good law, or a good government, from a bad one? You might be interested in The Not So Wild Wild West by Terry Anderson and Peter Hill; I think there's an excerpt somewhere on the web.



TimmyAnn, 2007.11.03 (Sat) 20:17 [Link] »

But you have to have rulers to have rules. You can't rely on social norms since people do not agree 100% on what they are. Someone has to specify what the exact rules are. One hopes that the rulers do so according to the standards of a majority of the people, but there still needs to be set rules and therefore some sort of rulers to make them. Anarchy equals chaos since rules that are not clearly established cannot be clearly broken and even if someone does do something that everyone agrees is wrong, there needs to be some sort of penalty and someone needs to decide what that should be, etc. Regardless of what title is given to the people making these decisions in a particular society, they are, to one extent or another, the rulers.



The Two Percent Company, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 08:53 [Link] »

Anton,

We'll address a few of your individual points here, but we have to reiterate what we've been saying all along. Recall that our overarching reply to you (a long, long time ago, and repeated almost ad infinitum) was as follows:

[The Libertarian platform] is vague, and contradictory, and it relies on the basic benevolence and wisdom of a population that has proven itself to be neither benevolent nor wise.
[Our emphasis]

That reliance on the basic benevolence and wisdom of our fellow human beings is the reason for the overwhelming majority of our disagreements with you, Anton. We can talk about individual examples until the cows come home, but, unless we suddenly change our perception of human nature, we don't see any way that we'll ever agree with the Libertarian platform. That's what we've been trying to get you to comprehend all along here.

Anton On Medical Licensing:

Well, if you like [the current system], you can recreate it: in Anarchia you can organize a voluntary House of Representatives on democratic lines, and have it appoint boards of experts; and you can even bind yourself by contract to follow those experts' advice, since you seem to dislike having other options.

Right, and we can create that same kind of system for every single thing that used to be under government review and for which we want competent, specialized oversight. Or, more intelligently and practicably, we can agree that we'd be setting up a kind of government there anyway, which suggests that government has a function, that the current system works just fine in some regards, and that fixing the imperfect system that we have in place is a better approach than scrapping it all and becoming Anarchists. We already know that you disagree with our choice here. And you should certainly have already known our answer to this one.

If a private institution is corrupt or ineffective, you go to its competitor. If a public institution is corrupt or ineffective, you're stuck with it. Have you made any hint of addressing this point?

Yes, we have. Every time we've mentioned that fixing the current system is our preferred approach, we've answered that question. In effect, our answer is that your example is inaccurate — those aren't the only two possibilities. We are in no way "stuck" with the imperfections of government-run agencies. We've been trying to get that point across to you all along.

Just because we agree with you that the current system is imperfect, it doesn't follow that the only solution is to throw it all away and go without government itself. The other option — the one we've been reiterating over and over, and the one that we actually practice — is to work to effect change in the current system. Have we addressed your assertion? Yes, time and time again, but you don't seem to be hearing us. Just like the last time around, we find ourselves having to reiterate the same precisely valid, clear and concise answers we've already given. As we said before, we know that you don't agree with our answers, but that doesn't mean that we haven't answered, or that our answers are any less valid.

In addition, it is nonsensical to assume that monopolies are all a result of meddling government agencies. If left to their own devices, corporations (which you agree would like to be monopolies) would, in some cases, become monopolies. And without a governing body to end these monopolies, that would be the end of that. Or would we simply count on good old human benevolence and wait for the CEO to voluntarily remove the barriers to entry into his industry?

But the broader answer to the question is: you'll choose the libertarian approach if you prefer the package. I cheerfully concede that there may be some services that you just can't get in Libertopia, just as there are some services that you can't get under the present regime.

Yeah, that's our point, Anton. We are not willing to accept the package at all. We happen to think that there are worthwhile and effective roles for the government to play (as we've said). We count those pictures of the outer planets among them, as well as the other examples we've used in our replies. Rather than scrapping the whole thing and losing the good bits (some of which you also seem to think are good, but which you are willing to give up), we'd rather work to fix what's wrong with what we have. Will we ever achieve perfect government? Hell, no, and it's silly to believe so. But we'd also never achieve a perfect society by shifting to Anarchy (in our opinion). So we've got a choice between imperfect governed society or imperfect anarchy — since we don't think that Anarchy is at all desirable, stable, or even workable in the real world, it's not a hard choice for us. Since you do embrace Anarchy, the opposite isn't a hard choice for you.

You might amuse yourself by thinking about the question from the other side. Imagine that you live in an ungoverned society otherwise comparable to our own, with the same rat-race, the same crimes, the same number of kids who drift through school without learning to read, the same depletion of the fisheries, the same number of bombings in protest of Libertarian foreign policy . . . . I come along and say "Hey, we could solve all these problems by creating an authority with ultimate power over everything and everybody." Do you bite?

We have no formulated answer to your non-starter. It isn't "change" that we're averse to, Anton, it's changing to the Libertarian Platform (or Anarchy). So while your example may be an amusing diversion, it really isn't pertinent to our discussion in the slightest. (Our own opinion on just how the hell the demographic circumstances in your ungoverned society match up so well to ours is beside the point. But you did say "imagine," so we just used our imaginations for that highly improbable scenario.)

Anton on Personal Secession:

[An individual who seceded would] be immune to drug laws, licensing laws and eminent domain, but also excluded from the services of the city fire department, and he might find himself surrounded with border guards who'll find a way to end the anomaly by busting him for smuggling.

Laws? It continues to amaze us, Anton, how you discuss "laws" in your anarchist society so matter-of-factly. This, again, is where we disagree with you on a very basic level. We simply don't see how your laws would exist or be enforced in an anarchist society. In such a system, there are no laws, other than those you choose to subscribe to. So if we subscribe to the "stealing is fine" rule, and you subscribe to the "stealing is wrong" rule, what happens when we steal from you? Does it come down to who has the best hired guns on retainer? This is one of the most maddening things about the Libertarian platform — how it totally abolishes government in one place, then refers to rules and laws and courts in another. It simply doesn't hang together in any way. And that was the basic crux of our post to begin with.

[If you don't believe in the basic benevolence and wisdom of humans,] why are you so eager to have humans rule over you? That's the weirdest thing about statism: that you take every flaw in human nature as a reason to put more power in fewer hands, to replace the risk of local error with the risk of universal error, to deprive yourselves of alternatives to dealing with the corrupt.

This again traces back to the point at which we fundamentally disagree with one another, Anton. We believe that, in many cases, government works for us to protect us from those who would, by malicious design or sheer stupidity, bring us to harm. Given our low opinion of human nature, we are not willing to give up the protections that the government provides in the hopes that we could recreate that same system in the private market (which, despite any assertions to the contrary, is precisely what all of your ideas — and those of the Libertarian platform — amount to...which is where your confusion of talking about "laws" in an ungoverned society comes in). That, coupled with the other effective functions of government, causes us to embrace an approach of fixing what is wrong rather than scrapping the whole system and moving to Anarchyville.

It's almost laughable that you seem to think that power wouldn't end up in fewer hands under a ruleless society. "Ruleless" societies — ungoverned ones — developed first, Anton. And quickly dissolved into tribalism, feudalism, and the most horrific power struggles you can imagine. Setting up rules was a method of countering these violent and scary situations (a method that is still in progress, but doing a decent job, incidentally). If you really managed to put a "peaceful" and "benevolent" anarchic system in place (which we don't think you — meaning, anyone who wants to, not just specifically Anton — can), just how long do you think it would last before somebody seized power? You recognize that government is corrupt, but you consistently refuse to recognize that this is because the people IN the government are corrupt. Without actual checks and balances of some kind in place, those individual people will be more frightening, not less. Or do you expect that, in an ungoverned society, we could just shoot the Dick Cheneys or Karl Roves of the world if we felt like it? We tend to think you're above that, Anton, but we also tend to think that your anarchist society truly would have no means to stop such actions from occurring, despite continued vague references to "rules without rulers."

Are there some aspects of the Libertarian platform (and of an Anarchist platform) that we like? Of course — we said that up front, near the beginning of our initial post. But because we don't agree at all with the package, we simply cannot embrace either approach.

See, what we said at the end of our post almost three years ago is still an accurate depiction of our stance:

Or, we can take the good ideas from the Libertarians, and discard the rest. The same can be said of any political party, and this is exactly the method that we recommend. If you research the ideas already in existence, weigh them rationally, choose what works, and fill in the rest with your own ideas, then when it comes time to cast your vote, you will be able to decide who best matches your own platform, and not just who belongs to a given political party that really doesn't represent your opinions at all.

Take good ideas — wherever they might come from, up to and including the Libertarian party platform or Anton Sherwood's anarchist contributions — and you can work to improve the imperfect but still useful and functioning system that we have in place today.

And that's about it.



Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 14:00 [Link] »

In a comment that I can't yet see here (it appeared in my mailbox by subscription), 2%Co accuse me of confusion in talking about "laws" in a stateless (a more accurate word than "ungoverned"; I repent using that word before) society. Perhaps they were too busy to notice that I used the word only in a sentence about secession, a word that also doesn't mean much in the state's absence. They previously quoted some of the LP platform's calls for repeal of specific legislation, illustrating that even those kooks are capable of considering reform as well as revolution.

But since 2%Co have raised the issue of law in a stateless society, I'll refer anyone who's interested to The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier (2004) by Terry L. Anderson and Peter J. Hill; chapters 29 through 32 of The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (1989) by David D. Friedman; The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State (1990) by Bruce L. Benson; and Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland (1990) by William Ian Miller. In that order.

To my pointing out that if they like the present regime for regulating medicine they can recreate it on a voluntary basis in Anarchia, they object to being compelled to go to all the trouble of rebuilding what the anarchists tear down, and say that the result would be a government. First, come on, haven't you ever heard of an existence proof? I always assume that the solution I suggest is not the best possible, because one man (or one organization) can never be as imaginative as millions of people trying hundreds of different things in parallel. Second, yes, every contract is a kind of government, but a voluntary one.

We don't need to tear down the existing structures to get our way: only make their powers advisory rather than mandatory. Then you have your certifying agencies, with their institutional memory intact, and we have the freedom to take their advice or leave it. Since the certifying agencies perform a useful service (though like any service it's not equally good for everyone; many have died because of it), they might well collect more in voluntary subscriptions than they get now in competing for tax money with the really important matters like waging wars, buying swing votes and enriching cronies.



Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 16:52 [Link] »

TimmyAnn says that without rulers the rules are ambiguous and uncertain. Compared to what? Appeals Courts spend much (most?) of their time in disputes over what the laws mean or which laws are applicable. The Supreme Court gives priority to cases where two Circuits reached conflicting conclusions.

The Uniform Commercial Code, adopted separately by each of the United States not because they are compelled to but because uniformity has advantages, consists largely of formalizing what was already common business practice. It has roots in the lex mercatoria of the late Middle Ages, a system of private courts that heard disputes in international trade (where the kings of the time disclaimed jurisdiction); their only weapon was ostracism, and that depended on the voluntary support of other merchants. Is a purely private arbitrator a ruler?

In medieval England, part of the function of juries was to instruct traveling judges on the local laws. Is a juror a ruler?

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles have some force of law, but they are written by a private organization. Their name implies that they were adopted, and relied on, before the rulers made them their own.

What army enforces the rules of the International Astronomical Union and similar professional standards-making bodies?



Anton Sherwood, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 17:30 [Link] »
"Ruleless" societies – ungoverned ones – developed first, Anton. And quickly dissolved into tribalism, feudalism, and the most horrific power struggles you can imagine.
Um, I think you've skipped at least one step there. Anthropologists seem to agree that the state originated when villages of farmers decided that their least bad option was to pay tribute to a bandit and have him keep other bandits at bay.

Ths was in a time before "Sam Colt made men equal," meaning that a specialist in violence is no longer certain of overwhelming a farmer who has never touched a weapon before. It was also a time when every stranger must be presumed an enemy, a presumption that we no longer need, given even medieval communications.

The system grew from villages to kingdoms; the kings supported priests who, for a share of the take, fed the doctrine of divine right to an ignorant and cowed populace. Feudalism was how kings managed their realms in a time of poor communications. The horrific power struggles that I assume you have in mind were between feudal lords, supported by conscripts; rather a long way from anarchy.

Conditions have changed since the Stone Age. Technology aside, we've learned to live in peace with strangers, and it's not because the state puts a soldier on every corner. Why assume that the crude solution adopted in the Neolithic – to pay tribute to a bandit to keep the other bandits away, and hope he doesn't drag us into war too often – is the best we can do?

It's only a few centuries since the thought of a society without a state religion was laughable; even fewer since the thought of a society without a king was laughable. I have some hope that the sophistries of the ruling class will someday be similarly obsolete.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 17:32 [Link] »

It seems that most of your arguments are semantic, Anton. Stop picking on individual words and start looking at the assertions that are being made. Thus far, you have a maddening track record of ignoring those assertions. Your reply to TimmyAnn showcases what I mean quite well.

TimmyAnn says that without rulers the rules are ambiguous and uncertain. Compared to what?

Let me lay this out...again: without some body to establish rules that apply universally (within a society), and to enforce those rules, we would end up with many competing rule systems. You know, like in the example we provided in our previous response about stealing and not stealing. That, I believe, is what TimmyAnn is getting at. If there's a way to be more clear about that, I'm unaware of it. It seems perfectly clear to me, and I'd guess to TimmyAnn as well.

The Uniform Commercial Code, adopted separately by each of the United States not because they are compelled to but because uniformity has advantages, consists largely of formalizing what was already common business practice.

And your point is...? We never claimed that diverse people or parties would never come together voluntarily and peacefully. What we claimed was that it won't always work out so well, and in those cases, it is necessary to have rules which are consistent and which can be enforced. This happens to be a case in which, by your own admission, it was in the best interests of these parties to come to an accord. Your other examples are just more of the same. Are you seriously deluded enough to think that will always be the case?

Is a purely private arbitrator a ruler?

When that arbitrator is governed by laws that control the nature of arbitration, then yes, they are functioning as part of the government system in place. What stops an arbitrator from sentencing one party in a divorce to death? Oh, yeah — the law setup by the government. Stop leaning on the word "ruler," Anton. Semantics won't win you any arguments here.

Is a juror a ruler?

By the same logic as above, a juror is in fact part of the government system. Without that system behind a juror, the juror would have no authority to decide a case. Then, if I decided to submit to a trial (my choice, but let's say I'm being charitable), and I didn't like the decision of the jury, I could just ignore it. Or, if all else fails, I could just secede (from the non-entity that I may or may not be a part of) and render the decision moot. Again, this issue is very clear to everyone in this discussion other than you, it seems.

We'll reply to your other comment later tonight or tomorrow — some of our members are in transit today.



TimmyAnn, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 17:33 [Link] »

The fact that the rules can be argued doesn't mean that it would be better to have no rules at all and without someone to determine what they are, there are no rules. You cannot expect a group of people to just spontaneously agree 100% on what the rules are. Someone has to set the rules and regardless of what title you give that person (or those persons), they are to one extent or another THE RULER(S). Appeals exist because laws can evolve and change according to interpretation and that is good since the attitudes of the society also evolve and change. The fact that they can be argued doesn't mean that the whole system is useless. How many times and in how many ways does this need to be explained to you?



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.11.05 (Mon) 17:36 [Link] »

Ah, here we go again. The Anton Sherwood shotgun comment approach. Last time, we asked you to take a breather so that we could compose a reply to your comments. That didn't work, and we ended up shutting down comments on the thread until our reply was completed. We're just going to skip the request this time — comments are now closed until we can reply.

As TimmyAnn said:

How many times and in how many ways does this need to be explained to you?

How many, indeed?



The Two Percent Company, 2007.11.06 (Tue) 19:02 [Link] »

First, we'll say this one last time for the cheap seats:

[The Libertarian platform] is vague, and contradictory, and it relies on the basic benevolence and wisdom of a population that has proven itself to be neither benevolent nor wise.

That was the thrust of our post, and our position remains 100% intact after two years of discourse with you, Anton. Not once have you corrected our assertions above. The contradictions we've cited are still accurate, and the lack of benevolence and wisdom in the population is, we're sorry to say, beyond debate. Given these points, we are no closer today to agreeing with the Libertarian platform, or with something even more anarchistic, than we were when we first wrote this post.

And no, the reference to rules in a society without rulers was not made solely in a comment about secession, and never has been exclusively limited to that scenario. The Libertarian platform makes the "rulerless rules" assertion in a general sense, and you, Anton, have leaned on it on more than a few occasions. Nor were we getting hung up on the word "ungoverned" — as long as you're clear in your intent, and that intent is not to misuse words for your own purposes (which you weren't doing — that's a woo tendency), we won't nitpick words. We were, however, reiterating (or is that re-re-reiterating at this point) that rules without rulers to enforce them are useless should any fundamental disagreement arise — and when it comes to something like "you took our car, you think it's fine, we don't think you should get away with it," there are fundamental disagreements that desperately require someone to lay down the ground rules. (In other words, pointing out a handful of instances — most of them, incidentally, commercial in nature — where coming to an agreement on the rules themselves is in the best interest of both parties...well, that's just a misleading non-sequitur, whether deliberately so on your part or not.) This basic necessity for established, enforceable ground rules (you know, those "law" thingies we keep harping on) — and an entity to make sure everyone follows them — has been one of our main arguments against the Libertarian platform (and anarchy) all along, so please don't try to wiggle away from this now.

And your reference to "secession" not having much meaning in the state's absence is just one more example of where the Libertarian platform contradicts itself. Precisely what do they mean by secession from a society without government? This is exactly our fucking point — that the Libertarian platform is contradictory and nonsensical, and that your "clarifications" of it just lead to more of the same. Why can't you fucking grasp that?

Likewise, the Libertarian appeal for legislative reform is not something you should be smiling at, Anton. It's yet another example of a contradiction because, on one hand, they call for the removal of all government, and on the other, they call for legislative reform. Here's a take-home test, kids: without a fucking legislature, what the fuck are they planning on reforming?

Honestly, we are so fucking frustrated with your lack of ability to understand these simple, simple concepts that we want to whack you in the head with a fucking ball peen hammer until the concepts sink in. (In our own private legislature, we've agreed that this is perfectly legal. How do your laws provide for this scenario, Anton? Which ones should we follow?) We're sick of pointing out the same shit over and over and fucking over again when it was clear to us two years ago that you were never going to understand what we were saying.

Here it is one last time: we get your point, Anton, and always have — truly. We're pretty confident that we could even formulate your specific arguments for you (though we wouldn't presume to do so), so clearly do we grasp the foundations of your view. We just don't agree with your underlying assumptions. As such, we will never agree with your conclusions. We're sure you feel the same way about our conclusions, and we're quite happy to accept that disconnect and move on. How many times do we have to repeat this same fucking point?

You say:

We don't need to tear down the existing structures to get our way: only make their powers advisory rather than mandatory. Then you have your certifying agencies, with their institutional memory intact, and we have the freedom to take their advice or leave it.

Hey, that sounds wonderful! Some government services should be advisory instead of mandatory (some already are, of course). Amazingly, that sounds like a good way to change the current system so that it functions more effectively. Too bad that's not what the fucking Libertarian platform calls for. If it did, maybe we'd agree with it more.

You know the Libertartian platform, right? It's that fucking thing that we wrote this post about. It calls for the abolishment of government, and then refers to legislative and judicial branches...that were, of course, just abolished in their brave new world. It makes a plethora of statements that flat out contradict one another. And it relies on the wisdom and benevolence of people who are neither benevolent nor wise.

We can boil this all down very, very easily, Anton.

If you can't see that our assertions about the Libertarian platform are accurate, then we think that you're blind, and we have nothing more to say to you. If you agree that our assertions are accurate, but you still support the Libertarian platform as a good plan for this country, then we think that you're delusional, and we have nothing more to say to you. If you don't at all support the Libertarian platform, and you are instead calling for total anarchy because you think it will be a wonderful society to live in, then we think you are insane, and we have nothing more to say to you. If you think that we should take the good bits from the Libertarians and from the Anarchists, and from wherever else they might come from (including the governments of the world that have already been established), and work to change the current system of government so that it includes these improvements, then we agree with you wholeheartedly...and we have nothing more to say to you.

Figured it out yet? In case that last paragraph wasn't clear: WE HAVE NOTHING MORE TO SAY TO YOU. We really, truly, honestly, sincerely, genuinely can't be any more clear than that.



Jason Spicer, 2007.11.06 (Tue) 21:09 [Link] »

I can't really add much to the 2% steamroller above, but seriously, Anton, are you trying to suggest that people were better off in the fucking Middle Ages? Seriously? Wait, seriously? You probably think that coconuts migrate, too.

Hey, man, if that kind of life trips your trigger, maybe you should move to Somalia. Anarchy has been tried many times. Experiments in Anarchy are currently under way. The results are always fantastically ugly.

Your Colonel Colt fantasy scenario notwithstanding, it's quite, quite well proven historically that anarchy devolves into feudalism in about 13 seconds. Colonel Colt didn't take into account a little thing called "ganging up". Why do you think they call them gangs? A lone farmer with a gun is a good match for another lone farmer with a gun, but not for a gang of thugs.

There's no need to hash this out in academic debate. The empirical results are in, and anarchy does not work.



dikkii, 2007.11.06 (Tue) 21:42 [Link] »

Anton wrote:

Government invented the limited liability corporations. The nearest thing to such a concept in common law is "the king can do no wrong."

Actually, it's my understanding that the South Sea Company invented this concept by putting a term (express or implied) in all its dealings (contractual or otherwise) whereby the members (i.e. shareholders) would only be partially personally liable for the companies debts.

That makes it both invented by corporations and (originally) a common law concept, but I could be confusing this with something else.



Alan, 2008.08.24 (Sun) 03:34 [Link] »

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.




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