Saturday, August 10, 2013

Triangle Man and the libertarians



The modern American libertarian movement can be understood by listening to the song "Particle Man", by They Might Be Giants. Here are the lyrics, and here's a video. The song describes the travails of the insignificant Particle Man and the degraded, downtrodden Person Man. In addition to the natural misery of their lowly station in life, these two must cope with the attacks of a bully named Triangle Man, who attacks and defeats both during the course of the song. The only being who could (presumably) save Person and Particle from the depredations of Triangle is the even more powerful Universe Man, who is "usually kind to smaller man". However Universe Man is occupied with lofty pursuits, and cannot be bothered to intercede more often than once per eon.

In modern America, Particle Man and Person Man can be seen to represent normal people, and Triangle Man stands for the various local power figures that bully normal people - shop owners who don't want to admit black people, bosses who put their employees in danger to boost profits, clergy who revile gay people, etc. Universe Man is the biggest power figure of all - the U.S. government, who has a monopoly on the legal use of violence.

The idea of the "progressive" movement, in a nutshell, has been to use democracy to call in Universe Man to restrain Triangle Man. The "libertarian" movement, which arose in opposition to the progressive movement, is mostly about restraining Universe Man from doing this, in order for Triangle Man to retain his local bullying power. I laid out this theory in a blog post about a year and a half ago, but unfortunately failed to reference They Might Be Giants.

The idea of libertarianism as a defender of local bullies can be seen in this article by libertarian political consultant Stephen P. Gordon (no relation to Stephen Gordon of Worthwhile Canadian Initiative), and in the articles he cites by Tim Carney and other libertarians. The article is called "Same-Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty and Extremism From Both Sides of the Aisle". In it, Gordon frets about the possibility that the religious figures whose religion forbids homosexuality might be "forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony". He worries that pro-gay extremists might bring about such an illiberal outcome. Gordon sums up his position with this quote:
“Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else. Just as other libertarians have said, your rights do not change based on your sexual preference. Correspondingly, you also do not get special rights because you are homosexual. An individual or government cannot, for instance, force a minister to perform a wedding ceremony against his will.”
The first question about this article should be: What does it mean for a clergyman to be "forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony"? Does this mean that the U.S. government would enact a law saying that if clergymen did not perform a gay marriage ceremony, they would be punished, fined, thrown in jail, or otherwise violently coerced into performing the ceremony?

If so, then the article is pure unadulterated nonsense, because no one, no one at all, is contemplating such a law. The most extreme pro-gay activist on the planet would be unlikely to want to throw someone in jail for refusing to perform a gay marriage ceremony.

So since I am giving Gordon the benefit of the doubt, I am assuming he means something else when he says "forced". Perhaps he means that state or local governments might revoke the official marriage-licensing power of clergy who refused to perform gay marriages? That seems like a possible step.

But would that constitute "forcing" clergy to perform gay marriage ceremonies? Only under a very odd and unusual definition of the word "forced". After all, suppose a traffic cop refuses to issue speeding tickets to Korean people, and is threatened with being fired unless he agrees to write tickets to people of any race. Is he being "forced" to write tickets to Korean people? The ideal libertarian definition of "force" would seem to say "no", because the cop has the option to go find a new job whose requirements do not go against his principles.

Similarly, a clergyman who was barred from issuing marriage certifications due to a refusal to marry certain groups of people would still be perfectly free to perform religions marriage ceremonies. No law would stop him from doing that. He would simply be barred from his government job of issuing government marriage certifications. He would simply be barred from participating in the weird church-state union that currently turns clergy automatically into part-time government bureaucrats.

So it seems that here we have a case in which libertarians are bending over backward - i.e., changing their typical definition of "force" - in order to come down on the side of a local bully (anti-gay clergy).

What about the pro-gay "extremists" of which Gordon warns? Here is the example he gives:
One issue is that there are extremists on both sides of the issue. I’ve already picked on Robertson, Perkins and Falwell, but here’s the other side of the coin:
Many Christians attempt to argue that, since their opposition to gay marriage is based on religious grounds, allowing gay marriage or prohibiting discrimination against gays is somehow infringing upon their religious liberty.

The short answer to this is: “Tough!”

The long answer is: “Tough shit!”
This same-sex marriage entry went on to indicate that the free expression of religion doesn’t “include hate crimes.”
Notice that the pro-gay "extremist" that Gordon is quoting is talking about gay marriage legalization, not about forcing clergy to perform gay marriage ceremonies. In other words, Gordon's example of a pro-gay "extremist" is someone who says the word "shit" while contending that legalization of gay marriage does not violate religious liberty.

Seriously???

Anyway, Gordon fails to give even one single example of a pro-gay person advocating forcing clergy to perform gay marriage ceremonies. He quotes a number of anti-gay conservatives who fret about the possibility, but zero evidence that any pro-gay person actually wants to do it. His entire evidence for pro-gay extremism comes in the form of a single use of the word "shit" from a wiki website. And he repeats the anti-gay line that gays are somehow demanding "special rights".

I think this article is a good demonstration of the priorities of libertarianism. It really bends over backwards to warn us about an imagined future government violation of the liberty of a local bully, while utterly ignoring the effects of the bullying itself.

This makes me all the more certain that the libertarian movement engages in a peculiar form of doublespeak, in which "liberty" is used to mean something that most people would regard as the opposite of liberty - namely, the freedom of Triangle Man to beat up Particle Man and Person Man. That seems very similar to the phrase "freedom is slavery", from the book 1984.

So after I read Gordon's article, I tweeted: "Opposing gay marriage to protect "religious liberty" is just one more way "libertarians" redefine slavery as freedom."

Gordon was very angry at this, and replied: "That's an outright blatant lie. Read the article; I/we totally support gay marriage - as well as other individual rights."

I will let the reader decide whether or not my statement was "an outright blatant lie".


Update: Gordon responds, in a considerably less angry fashion. I find his response quite reasonable in most regards, though I think it still evinces too much reflexive suspicion of "the far Left".

135 comments:

  1. No law would stop him from doing that. He would simply be barred from his government job of issuing government marriage certifications. He would simply be barred from participating in the weird church-state union that currently turns clergy automatically into part-time government bureaucrats.

    In my opinion the actual libertarian position is to get the government out of the marriage business, thus removing this as a political issue. I believe other libertarians have advocated a similar position. Also seems to me like you are extrapolating an awful lot based on one guy -- Stephen Gordon's -- position on the issue.

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    1. In my opinion the actual libertarian position is to get the government out of the marriage business, thus removing this as a political issue.

      yes

      Also seems to me like you are extrapolating an awful lot based on one guy -- Stephen Gordon's -- position on the issue.

      Illustrating, not extrapolating. The links in the post contain two other examples, one by Timothy P. Carney, one by Ron Paul. Those are only a tiny fraction of the similar arguments I've seen from many different libertarians over the years.

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    2. Anonymous5:37 PM

      Even if most libertarians wouldn't espouse such views as using "religious freedom" to restrict gay marriage I do see an interesting trend. Libertarians tend to defend people in power as a sort of bias toward naturalism. If at this time within a a certain set of rules in our society and economy groups attain power, then that power must be justified and any attempt to remedy such disparities is seen as morally wrong. Libertarianism is at the end of the day a defense of those in power under the guise of freedom.

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    3. Anonymous11:30 AM

      "Illustrating, not extrapolating. The links in the post contain two other examples, one by Timothy P. Carney, one by Ron Paul. Those are only a tiny fraction of the similar arguments I've seen from many different libertarians over the years.

      Bull. The vast majority of libertarians argue in support enforced marriage equality as a practical consolation to removing the state from the process altogether. The fact that some support enforced religious equality as their consolation instead doesn't make them hypocrites. Both choices are wrong, but they're the only two options the statists have left us with. As always when the state monopoly controls an aspect of society, somebody has to sacrifice their rights.

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    4. The vast majority of libertarians argue in support enforced marriage equality

      Examples???

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    5. Rohan4:55 PM

      It seems there is a pretty critical argumentative shift halfway through Gordon's response-Noah's point is that as long as priests want a marriage-granting license, it's reasonable for the state to force them to marry gay people for equality reasons. Gordon's answer is that Noah's concern is a good argument for why the state should get out of the business of giving marriage licenses entirely.

      ...ok. I happen to agree, but that's not answering the question at issue, it's just pivoting to a different discussion. The issue at hand is whether, given that it is a state institution, there is a slippery-slope risk for violating actual religious liberty by forcing licensed churches to marry gay people.

      I just can't see it - no matter how draconian a state gets with its licensing rules, there isn't a natural slow-creep risk (that i can see) from that to the state undermining the first amendment by prohibiting me from creating my own church and "marrying" people by printing my own non-legally-binding certificates. Priests can do that today, but usually don't want to because licenses give real legal power.

      So the question isn't whether libertarians are well-meaning, or even correct, in disliking state involvement with marriage - they are completely right on that issue, in my opinion. It's whether as a second-best strategy, their stated concern for religious liberty under a state license system is legitimate or just likely to provide cover for bullies. On that point, Noah's analysis is spot on as far as i can see.

      P.s. Calling them "private restaurants" in the civil rights debate is a misnomer that encourages this flawed way of thinking about it. All businesses have to comport to legal regulations of the economy (health and safety regulations, fire cords, or financial reporting requirements) - it's another functional licensing system. If you don't comport with these laws, you aren't a business from a legal perspective and can't claim all the legal protections that come with it. Can you be made to let people into your home from races you don't like? No. But if you want to submit a business number request to a commerce department or something, you are asking for extra-legal benefits that come with extra-legal obligations, like not being a racist.

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    6. Anonymous10:20 AM

      Getting government out of the business of marrying...? Why? Why is it better for religious institutions to be in charge of marriage than for government to be in charge?

      If the answer is that nobody should "be in charge", well members of church hierarchies don't qualify as "nobody". Separation of church and state was necessary at least as much because churches had functioned as states as because mundane governments have taken over religion.

      Part of the rhetorical problem here is the one we typically run into with libertarians. Their model is so far from reality than their solutions tend to fall apart. When those solutions fall apart, the answer is generally to say that the world just needs to change itself enough that their solutions don't fall apart. You want a pony with that?

      This whole "blatant lying liar" stuff is small-minded. Libertarians have their little spirals within little spirals that allow them always to claim that outsiders have mischaracterized the views of "real" libertarians. That's among the better reasons for never letting a libertarian remake your government. Libertarianism can be, within limits, whatever it needs to be on a given day, for a given purpose. As long as the blatant lying liar response is that easy to use, libertarianism is a pig in a poke.

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  2. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Troll man hates libertarian straw man
    They have a fight, troll man wins.

    ^ Summary of many of Noahopinion posts, imho.

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    1. If you say so, but did you read the Gordon piece? Did you read the Carney piece? Did you read the piece about Ron Paul?

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    2. Your anti-derp integrity is commendable.

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  3. +1 on Anonymous' sentiment and nice on-point humor

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    1. Another anonymous1:49 PM

      Troll man smarter than libertarian straw man. Smart people rule.

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    2. To keep the TMBG theme: Actual libertarian man stronger than troll man. They have a fight, actual libertarian wins.

      Troll Noah would get shellacked by Jason Brennan in a debate. Though regular Noah would probably do quite well. But their positions would be much closer and reasonable people could see that the evidence isn't decisive either way.

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    3. Anonymous5:10 PM

      I enjoy watching people engage in arguments intending to defeat an opposing argument but instead end up providing evidence to the contrary simply by their own behavior.

      I guess it would be trite for me to trot out the old cliche that bullies like to challenge precisely because they don't like being challenged and lash out immediately with scorn or sad attempts at mocking the challenger rather than actually going to the parking lot to fight it out? I try not to be a misanthropist, but people are so predictable and sad.

      The vast majority of libertarians I know are small pasty white tools who would never go to the parking lots themselves when challenged.

      But you're totally right if you are implying that it's arguing against a straw man to state that most self-proclaimed libertarians don't have proper appreciation of how complex the idea of liberty actually is. Wait, reverse that. That's better.

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    4. Hmm. "Parking lot to fight" and "small pasty white tools". Nope, no ad hominem here.

      But it's actually a great ironic example of "providing evidence to the contrary simply by their own behavior".

      Clearly, you don't hang out with libertarians like me.

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  4. It's an interesting question in its own right, whether the typical libertarian is (deep down) motivated by a desire to empower the already-strong to oppress the already-weak. It's also an interesting question whether the typical liberal is (deep down) motivated by a desire to stick it to successful management-types. I have no idea whether and to what extent either of these things is correct, but when I debate a self-described libertarian, or debate a self-described liberal, I try to focus on taking apart their arguments, because wherever the arguments may be coming from, if they have merit then they have merit.

    It's also worth pointing out that there seems to be a strong correlation between people who spend a lot of intellectual effort trying to think about these issues, and low-quality policy analysis. It's not that "both" sides (there are always more than two sides) are equally wrong or guilty or stupid or biased or whatever. It's that the hard questions in policy are almost always orthogonal to liberal v. conservative v. libertarian v. etc. questions. People who spend a lot of time trying to understand why tribe X gets everything wrong, or comes to such cruel conclusions, seem to think that one side is basically right about most things when in fact these debates between tribes are usually carried out at a level that cannot possibly come into contact with the level of debate needed to come to a satisfactory answer to these questions (if these are available).

    I guess what I want to know is why is someone as smart and knowledgeable as yourself so interested in diagnosing the pathologies of a tribe of people you disagree with, instead of forcefully making intellectually rigorous arguments for the views you actually hold, whether they be liberal, conservative, libertarian, or none of the above?

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    1. I guess what I want to know is why is someone as smart and knowledgeable as yourself so interested in diagnosing the pathologies of a tribe of people you disagree with, instead of forcefully making intellectually rigorous arguments for the views you actually hold, whether they be liberal, conservative, libertarian, or none of the above?

      "instead of"?

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    2. Yes, instead of. I liked your post on John Cochrane's response to Greg Mankiw a lot, because it involved you engaging in a purely intellectual debate with two other smart people on an issue that doesn't really map onto any political debate, without detouring into their right-wing pathologies. Your post about conservative views on the financial crisis was much worse, not because it involved lots of strawmen and pot shots (though it did), but because the debate was had between a liberal and a conservative and not between two people thinking hard about complicated issues. You don't post as many of the former posts as you do the latter, despite clearly having the capacity to do so. I think that's a shame but it is your blog.

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    3. Anonymous10:06 AM

      It's an interesting question in its own right, whether the typical libertarian is (deep down) motivated by a desire to empower the already-strong to oppress the already-weak. It's also an interesting question whether the typical liberal is (deep down) motivated by a desire to stick it to successful management-types.

      It's pretty cut and dry, actually. Libertarians rhetoric almost always attack overreach of the state, whereas progressive rhetoric almost always attacks people (the 1%). Clearly, then, the former is motivated by principle, while the latter is motivated by hatred and envy.

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  5. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Pretty sure you should be using Vice's August 5 article re the ghost rapes of Manitoba County, Bolivia, as an illustration of your points regarding minimal government, religious liberty, and local bullies.

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  6. This sort of highlights my biggest problem with the whole "libertarian" philosophy. It seems to be much more concerned with highly unlikely but possible intrusions in the personal sphere by the federal government than the real and everyday intrusions we experience in our lives. Like having someone refuse to let you see a hand bag in a store because of the amount of melanin in your skin.

    Also to import a a conversation NS had with Matt Yglesias on Twitter earlier today, there are a lot of songs off of Flood that are good critiques of the libertarian ethos like Minimum Wage and Your Racist Friend.

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    1. Anonymous10:14 AM

      "Like having someone refuse to let you see a hand bag in a store because of the amount of melanin in your skin."

      That's because those are already governed by consumers. I have little doubt that the retailer in question is getting hammered by the bad publicity.

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    2. The same way real estate developments with racial covenants were undercut by non discriminating housing. The free market worked! It's so obvious, I don't even need to check the historical record. I just consult my priors.

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  7. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Let's see if I get this correctly. According to the libertarian view, a government should not be able to take away my liberty, but bullies can, if they want to? Does a band of bullies working together (e.g., the mafia, a religious sect, a gang) also have the right to take away my liberties? How about a consortium of gangs? How about one guy with a bomb? This is too confusing and internally contradictory, looked at this way. However, it all makes sense if we get the pronouns right: I should be able to do anything I want (including bullying others), and I shouldn't have to do anything I don't want to do. Everyone else is on their own.

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    1. No, this isn't the libertarian perspective. The libertarian perspective is that Joe can deny a service to Jon if he wants to, and Jon will have to find that service elsewhere. But Joe can't force Sara through coercion to deny the service to Jon.

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    2. Yet Joe and his friends can band together to deny a service to Jon, and libertarians are OK with that. If Joe and his friends are the only people (with the money and/or power) to provide such a service, so that Jon can't "find that service elsewhere" the libertarian response is "tough shit".

      Say that education was all private (or public; doesn't matter). But all educational facilities of any quality were run by racists and won't admit blacks. Black people would not be able to get a quality education and libertarians would be OK with that. Tell me if that is the libertarian perspective.

      Oh, and here's the thing that makes me giggle about libertarians: "But Joe can't force Sara through coercion to deny the service to Jon." That's a nice little ideal, but if Sara starts a school to education black people & Joe and his friends firebomb that school, how will the libertarian-utopia-world deal with that (besides saying "That's bad, Joe, baaaad")? Remember that in libertarian-utopia-world, people who think like Joe run the police and justice system as well. In fact, libertarian-utopia-world is pretty similar to the Jim Crow South.

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    3. Anonymous9:19 AM

      "But all educational facilities of any quality were run by
      racists and won't admit blacks."


      If they were run by racists that won't admit blacks, it would create a demand for facilities that do include blacks, and those facilities would have an advantage in the marketplace. And we know that some corporation would come in and fill that demand because corporations only care about profit.

      "That's a nice little ideal, but if Sara starts a school to education black people & Joe and his friends firebomb that school, how will the libertarian-utopia-world deal with that (besides saying "That's bad, Joe, baaaad")? Remember that in libertarian-utopia-world, people who think like Joe run the police and justice system as well."

      That's a nice little caveat you added at the end...the racists run the police and courts. But I wonder, if racists ran the police and courts, then it seems to me progressives have the same dilemma, since they're trying to use those racist police and courts to enforce their anti-discriminatory laws.

      Sounds like a nirvana fallacy to me.

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    4. " it would create a demand for facilities that do include blacks, and those facilities would have an advantage in the marketplace. And we know that some corporation would come in and fill that demand because corporations only care about profit."

      lol. I turn to Steve Waldman:

      "Capitalist entrepreneurs are motivated by the accumulation of money claims. In a capitalist economy, it is not mere necessity, but purchasing-power-weighted necessity that is the mother of invention. American entrepreneurs don’t compete to meet the needs of money-poor Africans or Chinese. Instead, Chinese entrepreneurs compete to meet the needs of citizens of the country money comes from. Within the US, entrepreneurs don’t much innovate to discover and address unmet needs of the poor. "

      http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/4366.html

      This is just one of the flaws of libertarianism. It's a decent way to live a personal life, but a terrible way to think about the economy.

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    5. The empirical evidence is against you. Most products have "trickled down" to the poorest members of our society. Education might have too earlier, had segregation not been institutionalized.

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    6. And there's the rub:
      Segregation _was_ institutionalized. How would libertarians deal with that world?

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    7. ""That's a nice little caveat you added at the end...the racists run the police and courts. But I wonder, if racists ran the police and courts, then it seems to me progressives have the same dilemma, since they're trying to use those racist police and courts to enforce their anti-discriminatory laws.

      Sounds like a nirvana fallacy to me."

      Did you ever read up on US history? OK, let me be more specific: The racists run the local police and courts, but non-racists run the national government. What the liberals would do is use the national government to enforce anti-discriminatory laws (overruling the local racists). Liberals have just circumvented your "fallacy". What would libertarians do?

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    8. Anonymous8:36 PM

      Segregation was institutionalized in PUBLIC schools and PUBLIC restrooms/water fountains. Blacks were required to sit in the back of PUBLIC buses. The military was segregated. This applied to other public institutions as well. Given that these public institutions do exist (anticipating an irrelevant retort that libertarians want to limit the amount of public institutions) THAT is what libertarians would believe would have to be desegregated under law.

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  8. I've started to categorize Libertarians into two groups with the same ideological base: liberals and conservatives. Liberal libertarians (like myself) emphasize cosmopolitanism, reasonable disagreement, and compromise, ideally through a free political society (democracy can be included, depending on its institutions [e.g. we might think twice about including Venezuelan democracy]). Conservative libertarians focus on the right to exclusion: the right to not allow someone onto your property and the right to discriminate. The thing is, we all know people have a right to exclusion, but we don't emphasize it, because what emphasizing it reveals is a personal preference for segregation -- a personal preference most liberals probably don't have.

    I know you're a busy man, but you may find this interesting: What is Limited Government? It's a liberal Libertarian perspective of what limited government really is, and it might include, yes, a welfare system.

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    1. Good distinction; I consider myself to be a liberal libertarian too.

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    2. Diego Espinosa2:57 PM

      It seems Noah never met a college libertarian. It is true that they tend to keep to themselves in their theme dorms.

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    3. Why is the "right to exclusion" in any way the antithesis of "cosmopolitanism, reasonable disagreement, and compromise" ?

      Noah has the right to delete posts from his blog. That's the right of exclusion, based on established property rights. Come to think of it, blogspot has the right to delete Noah's entire blog, should they choose to do so.

      Do you argue that this is unreasonable?

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    4. Tel, re-read my comment, because nowhere do I claim that the right to exclusion is unreasonable. In fact, I write that we all recognize that there's a right to exclusion -- we just don't emphasize it as much.

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    5. Anonymous9:26 AM

      Liberal libertarians (like myself) emphasize cosmopolitanism, reasonable disagreement, and compromise...Conservative libertarians focus on the right to exclusion: the right to not allow someone onto your property and the right to discriminate."

      Your "conservative" libertarians have it right, since only the right to exclusion is controversial. Everybody likes cosmopolitanism, reasonable disagreement, and compromise...so why would anybody talk about those things? They're not in question, and they're not under threat.

      But there's an entire political machine that exists to deny the exclusion part, and to do so using government force. So that should be focus for anybody genuinely concerned with liberty and individual rights.

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    6. Anonymous, anybody who thinks the state should be radically contracted yes or yes is somebody who's against reasonable disagreement, public debate, and compromise.

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  9. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Libertarianism is market statism.

    They hate the Euro because it is a "centralization", but in real, the Euro is a German scheme to profit off of the south...............there is nothing "centralized" about it frankly. Those countries picked up the Euro because they wanted to be ruled by a stronger people and thus, they set their own paths to monetary colonization. Libertarianism and Germany never have gotten along well lol..........

    The Libertarian ideal in currency is all value. If a individual values something enough, that value should be what runs society. It is why Libertarians don't care about "climate change" and their financiers finance "skeptics". The cheapest value(despite the nominal rises over the last 10 years) is still fossil fuels and that value is what should drive society. Because the value can do no wrong. Build currency globally and let the individuals "compete".

    You see, this is pure internationalism and frankly, the next phase of degeneration from the "bourgeois" nation state.

    1.Liquidation of all countries
    2.Value set by property ownership
    3.Property ownership describes value
    4.The more powerful your value is, the more property you will control
    5.people of little value should be slaves to the property owner
    6.International control by the property owner

    Really, it isn't that much different than Marxism, except the "dictatorship" is merchant driven rather than laborer.

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    1. This is backwards in so many ways.

      Libertarians don't universally hate the Euro, people like Krugman hate the Euro, but libertarians are (mostly) happy to accept that the trade union over Europe is beneficial, but political union is not. There's a difference if that didn't dawn on you.

      Germany has made a massive loss on the South, particularly by investing in Greece and now facing bad debts that will never be repaid. The full realization of this has yet to reach the German people, but they cotton on pretty fast. I expect Germany will leave the Euro within maybe 5 or 10 years.

      "If a individual values something enough, that value should be what runs society."

      What does this even mean? Who said that the value system of any one individual should be universal? Go on, cite a reference.

      'It is why Libertarians don't care about "climate change" and their financiers finance "skeptics".'

      Speaking for myself, as a libertarian, I've studied the whole Anthropomorphic Global Warming scare for about 5 years, I read the whole box and dice of those East Anglia emails, and I'm convinced it's a scam with no scientific backing whatsoever. Climate change is real (from natural causes), but Anthropomorphic Global Warming is so trivially small as to be irrelevant. If you think I'm paid to say that, then you are an idiot. I could have made much more money from riding the Bullshit Bandwagon, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

      'Because the value can do no wrong. Build currency globally and let the individuals "compete".'

      You just said that libertarians hate the Euro, now you say that libertarians push for a global currency. You argue against yourself, but still you cite no reference.

      'Really, it isn't that much different than Marxism, except the "dictatorship" is merchant driven rather than laborer.'

      Like as if freedom of choice made no difference in the world. Get real.

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    2. Anonymous10:18 AM

      Really, it isn't that much different than Marxism, except the "dictatorship" is merchant driven rather than laborer.

      Ironic that this is a purely Marxist analysis, full of all the same fallacies. No wonder libertarians are rightfully suspicious of so-called "3rd-way" progressives.

      Your lack of self-awareness is typical and boring.

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    3. " I could have made much more money from riding the Bullshit Bandwagon,"

      Cool. Genius son is a physics major. When can he start cashing in. I keep waiting for the conspiracy money to show up, bu tit never arrives.

      Steve

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    4. Anonymous8:40 PM

      Actually, Germany needed to be persuaded to join the Euro Zone. They were afraid that other countries irresponsible policies and were given assurances that other member nations wouldn't accumulate too much debt (apparently their concerns were justified).

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  10. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I wish I could unsee that video.

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  11. An amazing anti-libertarian post was by the late great Maxine Udall, Girl Economist, at:

    http://www.maxineudall.com/2010/12/weve-come-a-long-way.html

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    1. Anonymous9:38 AM

      How is it a good post when everything she wrote is empirically wrong?

      Child labor declined 75% from 1880-1930, but she claims that it didn't "end" until laws were enacted in the late 30s. This is just another case where government is waaaay behind the market. Once people became wealthy enough that their children didn't have to work, they didn't work, and it had nothing to do with government.

      And it's not just the US. Everywhere you look around the globe, you find the decrease in child labor (which, btw, existed and was accepted as normal for the entirety of human existence) corresponds directly with the increase in income. Whether the state passes a law or not makes no difference.

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    2. You might try using a dictionary to look up the meaning of "end". You could also look at local and state labor laws enacted during that period.

      Steve

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    3. Anonymous11:02 AM

      Why are you telling me? I'm using her "amazing" definition of endend.

      And I did look up laws during that period (not incidentally, laws driven by upper-middle class snobs who's incomes had risen to the point that they didn't need their children to work anymore, and then decided they were going to impose their new pretentious, sanctimonious morality on those with lower incomes who still depended on it...all in the name of "compassion". I guess not much has changed among "progressives".), and they all trail the trend. Just like the 40-hour work week trailed the declining trend in weekly hours (and brought the decline to a halt). And just like the CRA trailed the civil rights movement (and brought the decline in the black/white income gap to a halt). Funny how all this celebrated legislation shows up just in time crush any maturing social movement. But hey, at least it gives progressives the opportunity to strut their self-satisfaction amongst all the lesser rabble of society, which is what's really important to them!

      Delete
  12. Now that we've dispensed with greatness, I had a post I like that was inspired by Noah's seminal libertarian post:

    Who does more "bossing around"?

    From Jonathan Chait today:

    Consider Will’s column from the past weekend. It centered primarily on climate change, a favorite Will topic – he is a climate-science skeptic. Occasionally, Will ventures forth to cast doubt on the science directly, but he usually takes the total falseness of the climate-science field for granted and proceeds from that basis. In his recent column, Will argues that liberals made up the global warming scare in order to justify their desire to ration energy:

    Because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people...

    Now, aside from the conservative anti-science, I love this line, "Because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people..."

    Even at the height of government power in the 1960s, when were people ever anywhere near as bossed around by government as by the free market, as by, say, THEIR BOSS!

    The more income inequality we have, the more plutocracy we have, the more people get bossed around. It's very often government that PREVENTS large numbers of people from being bossed around. Try being an indentured servant to a private student loan holder, after being conned into a culinary institute and now working at Taco Bell. See how bossed around you are.

    Yeah, before the progressive movement in the early 1900s, people were never bossed around.

    at: http://richardhserlin.blogspot.com/2012/01/who-does-more-bossing-around.html

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    1. Anonymous5:51 PM

      I do not get this perspective. In what world could you be bossed around by your boss without the boss having the state (or local ruler or whatever), and its police force, backing him.

      Yes, the state no longer stand behind the boss no matter what - and even carries out a punishment on your behalf if the boss goes to far - but it is hardly the employees that has a need to be protected from a bad employer. Just look at France where some people still have the balls to say enough.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous6:00 PM

      PS: Ok - I get it.
      The extreme police state implied by "the free market" is your null - and since current state is better it "prevents" some of the abuse that would be carried out under the null alternative.

      Delete
    3. "I do not get this perspective. In what world could you be bossed around by your boss without the boss having the state (or local ruler or whatever), and its police force, backing him."

      Uh, what? In what world can you be free of a state or local ruler? Are you a teenager?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous7:19 AM

      "In what world can you be free of a state or local ruler?"
      ???
      If you ask, say, what is the effect of trade - you hypothesis about the outcome with or without trade - right?
      That does not mean that you think there exist an actual world without trade - right?
      It is called abstract thinking.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous9:46 AM

      "Even at the height of government power in the 1960s"

      LOL! What!?! In 1960, government represented less than 20% of GDP, compared to closer to 40% today. Regulations were a fraction of what they are now.

      "when were people ever anywhere near as bossed around by government as by the free market, as by, say, THEIR BOSS!"

      Really? How many bosses throw people in jail, or dictate their behavior with the threat of same? An employer can't force a person to do anything.

      And bosses don't confiscate 20-30% of your income, in fact, they GIVE YOU 100% of your income. And therein lies the difference. Your relationship with your employer is an exchange you freely enter into.

      Delete
    6. It helps to get your facts right:

      http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html

      30% is not "less than 40%".

      Delete
    7. "If you ask, say, what is the effect of trade - you hypothesis about the outcome with or without trade - right?"

      Actually, I look at the real-world effects of trade. Hypotheses can be wrong when not grounded in reality.

      "That does not mean that you think there exist an actual world without trade - right?"

      There actually does/did exist societies with virtually no foreign trade, so you could study them and societies with trade.

      There doesn't exist societies with no state or local ruler (for a reason; those societies aren't stable and don't last). Whatever hypotheses you have about such a society are therefore worthless (and likely wrong).

      It's called living in the real world instead of engaging in intellectual masturbatory fantasy. Again, are you a teenager?

      Delete
    8. 30% is not "less than 20%", I meant.

      Delete
  13. In the natural state (primitive, sans government) Particle Man has no property rights. In this state might-makes-right and Triangle Man can use force to take from Particle Man anything Triangle Man desires.

    Universe Man is the social contract that confers to Particle Man the right to property; it nullifies (or attempts to nullify) Triangle Man and might-makes-right.

    Libertarians love property rights and Libertarians hate Universe Man. But without Universe Man there is no right to property other than that you can acquire and maintain by use of force. Go figure.

    It's a fundamental philosophical contradiction that most libertarians never acknowledge much less address.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:48 AM

      Nonsense. I don't hate government, I hate progressive/socialist/fascist governments, like the one we live under. A government that limited itself to protecting individuals' right to life, liberty and property would be a wonderful thing. There's no contradiction except in your strawman.

      Delete
    2. OK, find a government in the world that is your ideal. If it doesn't exist, you do ever ask yourself why it doesn't exist? The problem is that the ideal libertarian ideal very much is made of straw and collapses when faced with real-world realities.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous8:46 PM

      Most libertarians believe government should exist to protect property rights. They don't believe in acquiring property by force (the POINT of property rights is to prevent this). They do believe in defending property with force because the violator has entered, as Locke would say, a "state of war" by using force.

      Delete
  14. Anonymous5:23 PM

    "The idea of the "progressive" movement, in a nutshell, has been to use democracy to call in Universe Man to restrain Triangle Man."

    If true, maybe it explains the (lack of) american left.

    From a European progressive perspective, change does not happen because Universe Man is kind to smaller man - but because Particle, Person and a lot of other men threaten to put Universe man through the guillotine together with Triangle Man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7:20 AM

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk69e1Vcmvg

      Delete
  15. I'm confused by Noah's argument. One of the articles he linked describes actual cases where wedding service providers are being prosecuted or sued for refusing to provide services for same sex marriages -- one a photographer, the other a florist. These legal actions are based on violation of non-discrimination laws.

    It seems pretty straightforward to infer that clergypeople could be sued or prosecuted for refusing to provide wedding services -- i.e. marrying people -- in same sex marriages, unless they are exempted from non-discrimination laws. Maybe this is wrong, but it isn't obviously wrong.

    However Noah simply dismisses this possibility: "no one at all, is contemplating such a law" (One that says that "if clergymen did not perform a gay marriage ceremony, they would be punished...") It seems that such laws have not only been contemplated, but passed and are now being used in suits and prosecutions, although not yet of clergypeople.

    So Noah's argument makes no sense to me; he linked to an article that gives examples of exactly what he said is impossible. Given that it is actually happening I think the Libertarian concerns are reasonable. This isn't an endorsement of Libertarian ideas generally, I don't like that strain of thought, but in the case Noah is discussing I think they have more or less the right position.

    I will go somewhat further. I think where individuals have relatively little power in the relationship (such as photographers or florists), enforcing non-discrimination regarding same sex marriages is probably too heavy handed. Same sex marriages are fundamentally about conferring the social recognition and benefits of marriage on a wider range of relationships, and refusal to provide specific services at a marriage doesn't impair those benefits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:51 AM

      Yep, he pretty much constructed a narrative in direct opposition to the facts. You'll notice that none of his sycophants in the peanut gallery picked up on that, because all they care about is the story they're told, the illusion they're presented.

      Delete
  16. All Hail Noah ! Destroyer of libertarian illusion.

    Classic post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. OK Noah, I called your bluff and clicked on the Tim Carney article, since I don't know who Stephen Gordon is. The very first case he discussed wasn't about a clergyman being denied gov't permission to issue gov't marriage licenses, but instead it was Elaine Huguenin who was ordered to pay $7,000 to a lesbian couple when she merely wanted to refrain from photographing their wedding.

    So yes, you're a liar.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bob. You know, you strike me as someone who was born with a fairly high IQ. You could probably be a smart, incisive guy if you learned how to think about stuff rationally instead of just heaving up the contents of your stomach onto the computer screen.

      There's no gay marriage in New Mexico. The florist was fined for discrimination, just as she would have been fined for refusing to render services to a black person.

      Does that register with either one of your brain cells?

      Delete
  18. Similarly, a clergyman who was barred from issuing marriage certifications due to a refusal to marry certain groups of people would still be perfectly free to perform religions marriage ceremonies. No law would stop him from doing that. He would simply be barred from his government job of issuing government marriage certifications.

    I've always seen it that way, but in Australia (dunno about the USA) it is actually illegal (yes, that means invocation of force) to perform a marriage without government permission. Whack, yes, real, also yes... but we have no Bill of Rights in Australia, and anyhow, most people ignore that law, including the police.

    In the UK there was the infamous "Bed and Breakfast" case where a business was forced (yes real force) to accept a gay couple as "married" even though the business owners did not personally accept gay marriage, and anyhow the couple only had a civil union certificate, not a real marriage certificate.

    Wait until government use of force catches you the wrong way round, suddenly it feels a lot more, errr, forceful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tel, don't interrupt Noah when he's in the middle of mocking libertarians. It's so much more fun when they are pure evil.

      Delete
    2. I would not have called him a liar outright.

      Pointing out where he is wrong should suffice. Besides, I think he writes this stuff in the hope someone will call him out. I haven't yet figured out whether he is trolling us, or the progressives who mindlessly nod along.

      Delete
  19. Actually that's too harsh. I don't think you are a liar, Noah; I am prepared to believe that you actually can't conceive of people who defend the property rights of people who might use those rights in ways a lot of people find obnoxious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I appreciate that. What, had you not had your coffee yet when you wrote the previous bit of spew?

      Delete
  20. Noah, the more I read of the Carney piece, the more astonished I am that you can't see the plausible position he is laying out. Did you get the one about the florist? And he even shows that it's really about gay marriage, it's not about refusing to serve gay people per se:

    "How does Ferguson justify using the power of the state to impose his morality? "If Ms. Stutzman sells flowers to heterosexual couples," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes Ferguson saying, "she must sell them to same-sex couples."

    But obviously Stutzman did sell flowers to same-sex couples, happily - that's why this particular client was a long-time customer. What she refuses to do is participate in a ceremony that the state calls marriage, but which she doesn't consider to be marriage.

    This is why the civil rights analogy doesn't work. Huguenin's case and Stutzman's case aren't about small businesswomen refusing to serve gay people. They are about businesswomen refusing to endorse the novel definition of marriage."

    You really don't see this as libertarians being concerned about the force of gov't being deployed on people who want to go through their lives respecting a "traditional" view of marriage? I am surprised you can't even see what Carney is saying. If I knew more TMBG songs I'm sure I could come up with an analogy.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous9:54 AM

      "Noah, the more I read of the Carney piece, the more astonished I am that you can't see the plausible position he is laying out."

      Your mistake is that you're assuming you're responding to somebody who's concerned about their intellectual integrity. Free yourself of that illusion and his post makes perfect sense.

      Delete
    2. This argument does not seem too strong for me. Would you say the same if florist or wedding photographer refused to "participate" in marriage of mixed couple because they do not adhere to this "novel" concept of marriage?

      The same argument that Noah used for Policemen refusing to fine Koreans is valid for these people. They are free not to arrange and sell wedding flowers or take photographs of weddings and thus risking conflict with their religious sensibilities.

      Delete
  21. This is like the 4th article about libertarian politics i've read today and i'm not even trying to read the news.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:22 AM

      Must be the hot topic among the Journ-O-listers.

      Delete
  22. The "libertarian" movement, which arose in opposition to the progressive movement, is mostly about restraining Universe Man from doing this, in order for Triangle Man to retain his local bullying power.

    Yes, but they never see it that way. What they believe is that Triangle Man only exists because he is a crony of Universe Man, and that if you kill Universe Man then Triangle man will die, and a whole bunch of Person Men and Particle Men will live in harmony.

    My Theory: if you kill Universe Man and Triangle Man, then three or four Person Men or Particle Men become new Triangle Men. They then fight it out and one of them becomes the new Universe Man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The King is dead, long live the King.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9:56 AM

      They then fight it out and one of them becomes the new Universe Man.

      I agree. The solution is don't kill Universe man, just restrain him...an act which is a lot easier to accomplish when you don't hand over half of the economy to him.

      Delete
  23. Noah wasting time. Given that the depth of libertarian arguments is such that you could wade across without taking your shoes off and not get your socks wet, engaging with them in this way is simply silly. What's much more interesting is why libertarianism has such a hold on the popular US imagination and has crept into US politics to such a degree. What's the social pathology here? Part may be that even sensible economists often think in terms that take some degree of libertarianism as a start point (see, eg, Frances Woolley here: http://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2013/08/love_paternalism_and_sellfishness.html), coupled with the dominance of economics as a discoursive framework. But there may also be some interesting discontents at work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:57 AM

      Yeah, because there's soooo much depth to the random appeals to emotion that constitutes the progressive "philosophy".

      Delete
  24. Anonymous2:37 AM

    Universe Man, Universe Man
    Too busy spreading democracy to the Muslim Man
    Who came up with democracy, man?
    Nobody knows, maybe some French Man

    ReplyDelete
  25. The time it takes to herp derp is a "terp" ( time of derp). If the derp likes it so much it licks, it then it becomes a "slerp" ("slurp of derp".

    ReplyDelete
  26. This argument looks like the ongoing split between Hayekians and Misesians in Austrian economics, which may also be thought of as being about whose rights one is worrying about defending.

    So, most libertarians are pro-gay rights and also classically liberal on immigration and letting black people buy things in stores, even if the store owner is a racist and hates them, something mid-60s civil rights laws enforce. But Ron Paul has liked to hang out at the LvMI, long funded by paleo-conservatives of the Deep South who are more worried about the right of the racist store owner to keep the blacks out, the racist anti-foreigner who wants to keep immigrants out, and the homophobic (or deeply religious person) who does not want gays to marry.

    ReplyDelete
  27. A more pointed point is that we live in a Millian world. Rights can conflict, and so my freedom to do things will end up conflicting with somebody else's freedom to do things, so somehow somebody must adjudicate whose right must give way and by how much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:44 AM

      Good point. Somehow we need to atomize the effect of people's behavior in such a way that we can clearly distinguish where one person's rightful claim ends and another persons begins, and accounts of each can be kept in an ever-changing world. We should invent something like that...maybe we could call it "property" or something.

      Delete
    2. Something that is easily forgotten, particularly by many libertarians, is that while property rights are indeed very socially useful, they are ultimately in most societies highly arbitrary, despite nice stories from Locke, etc. Think about such matters as inheritance laws or divisions of property upon divorce. There are competing normative stories from different religions and sects within religions about how such matters should be handled, and, just to stick with the US, one finds all kinds of variations of these from state to state, which are ultimately arbitrary. Law sets these, although we know that there are efficiency gains from having these rights clearly delineated, however arbitrarily.

      Barkley Rosser

      Delete
    3. maybe we could call it "property"

      Are you suggesting that the notion of property is sufficient for the purpose of "clearly distinguishing where one person's rightful claim ends and another begins?"

      Because I sort of doubt you want to suggest that.

      Delete
    4. mattski,

      Property rights help in this, but are not sufficient. Some matters where rigths conflict do not involve property rights. Indeed, while ancient societies view marriage as being a matter of property rights (husband "owns" wife), that is not the modern view, which of course becomes even more ridiculous when the issue is same-sex marriages (do churches own the right to marry people or is that a right of governments?).

      Delete
    5. Barkley,

      Indeed. I was directing my comment at Anonymous's response to your 4:41 am. As you say, there is a large field of interpersonal disputes which do not involve property. But I was also mindful that the mere idea of property isn't particularly useful until such time as a dispute comes to adjudication. And at that point we are often in need of law enforcement and/or a judicial system, not to mention legislatures where laws are written!

      :^)

      Delete
  28. In a weird way, I like it when economists post music videos. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE????

    ReplyDelete
  29. I would add that "libertarian" here is an abuse of the English language. Triangle man is a good metaphor, because look at the triangle: it is inherently hierarchical. It's not round or horizontal. It has a point at the top.

    The libertarians don't care about liberty generally , they care about power. Wealth =virtue= deserving of power. As for the Christian vs. gay rights thing, of course they're bigots, but plumbing the psychology of that is problematic. I think they just don't like people who are different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:45 AM

      That's not what the science says, but feel free to put up whatever psychological constructs you need to maintain your hatred.

      """Table 2 shows that libertarians are similar to liberals on most values, scoring moderately higher than conservatives on hedonism and stimulation, and substantially lower than conservatives on conformity, security, and tradition. Libertarians also scored similarly to liberals and slightly lower than conservatives on power."""

      and...

      Table 2 shows that libertarians scored highest on both kinds of liberty (also see Figure 1). On economic/government liberty, liberals were the outliers, scoring below the midpoint of the scale, two full standard deviations below libertarians (d = 2.56). On lifestyle liberty, libertarians scored substantially higher than both liberals (d = .81), and conservatives (d = 1.19).

      So much for all the "libertarians hate the gays!!!" screeching.

      http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0042366

      Delete
  30. "Particle Man and Person Man can be seen to represent normal people, and Triangle Man stands for the various local power figures that bully normal people - shop owners who don't want to admit black people, bosses who put their employees in danger to boost profits, clergy who revile gay people, etc. Universe Man is the biggest power figure of all - the U.S. government"

    And here's where all of these "movements" go wrong - the institutions mentioned above are organizations of PEOPLE. People are neither inherently good nor inherently evil, but they certainly are fallible. Libertarians rail against the evils of government while ignoring the horrible things that private organizations like businesses, churches, community associations, etc. have done (and to which government can be an effective counterbalance). Progressives, on the other hand, seem blind to all of the nasty things governments have done over the years (often starting with the best of intentions). We should be suspicious of ALL concentrations of power, not just private or public ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous10:01 AM

      "Libertarians rail against the evils of government while ignoring the horrible things that private organizations like businesses, churches, community associations, etc. have done"

      No we don't. We just recognize that a free society already has a mechanism to deal the vast majority of those abuses.

      Delete
    2. The mechanism is called government. It's one of the greatest evolutionary inventions ever, and people have been tinkering around with it since there have been people.

      People are political animals. Governments are some kind of invasion force from out-space that has covered up the natural government-free liberty of the people. Government is what people do. They like to organize things, make rules and enforce them.

      Delete
  31. Anonymous8:13 AM

    There were those to guys in the UK who want to force the church of England to marry them...

    'I am a Christian - a practising Christian. My children have all been brought up as Christians and are part of the local parish church.' Mr Drewitt-Barlow, 42, who owns a surrogacy company based near the family home in Essex and is opening another in Los Angeles, added: 'If I was a Sikh I could get married at the Gurdwara. Liberal Jews can marry in the Synagogue - just not the Christians.

    'It upsets me because I want it so much - a big lavish ceremony, the whole works.

    He said it was a shame that he and his partner were being forced to take Christians to court to get them to recognise them, but he said the new law did not give them what they have been campaigning for.


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2383686/Millionaire-gay-fathers-sue-Church-England-allowing-married-church.html#ixzz2bf6KpK60

    Personally I don't know why anyone would want to force this... It seems pretty silly to want to be a part of an organization that hates you in that way.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Similarly, a clergyman who was barred from issuing marriage certifications due to a refusal to marry certain groups of people would still be perfectly free to perform religions marriage ceremonies. No law would stop him from doing that. He would simply be barred from his government job of issuing government marriage certifications. He would simply be barred from participating in the weird church-state union that currently turns clergy automatically into part-time government bureaucrats.

    [THe local government clerk's office ISSUEs the marriage certificate. Who is licensed or authorized to perform a wedding ceremony varies from state to state. E.g., In Florida a licensed notary public is sufficient. They then just sign and date the license for filing in the local clerks office.]

    ReplyDelete
  33. On a note that's really only tangentially related to this post, I think the clearest solution to the "clergy will be forced to marry gays!" argument, and many others, is to separate religious from legal marriage once and for all. It's bizarre to me that in the United States, we still inextricably connect religion to the state this way. I think the state should issue marriage certificates, and people can have their weddings officiated by anyone they want, religious or otherwise. To be married in the eyes of the law, you'd need the certificate; to be married in the eyes of your religion, you'd need your religious authority figure's say-so. They shouldn't have to be related. Just think about how weird it would be if religious authority figures were involved in granting you a driver's license or a birth certificate or a license to practice your trade. It seems to me that the government has the authority to decide who they want to give what tax benefits, etc., and religious authorities have the right to separately decide who gets marital status in their religion's view, and there's no reason that they have to correspond. Libertarians should agree with that, I'd think.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous11:37 AM

      I think the state should issue marriage certificates, and people can have their weddings officiated by anyone they want, religious or otherwise.

      [Actually, that is pretty much the way that it already is, although the variety of authorized wedding officiators varies from state to state.]

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:39 AM

      "I think the clearest solution to the "clergy will be forced to marry gays!" argument, and many others, is to separate religious from legal marriage once and for all."

      You're obviously a closeted bigot you racist homophobe!

      /derp

      Delete
    3. Anonymous11:41 AM

      http://marriage.about.com/cs/marriagelicenses/a/officiants.htm

      Delete
    4. 11:37 Anonymous, I agree. I actually had a civil wedding myself, and I officiated at a friend's in Virginia (where any resident can do it). I'm not under the impression that religious figures are *required* for a marriage. My thought is just that there could be no concern that religious entities were being "forced" - or even pressured -- to conduct marriages they didn't want to, if religious ceremonies had no legal impact, and the two were entirely unrelated. Also, the government then wouldn't be sanctioning the activity of a religious organization, particularly not one that practices discrimination it wouldn't want to endorse. The total severance of these two actions, the legal and the religious, would solve a lot of this controversy.

      11:39 Anonymous, you've found me out! ;-)

      Delete
    5. Anonymous4:29 PM

      There is a danger to using anonymous, but I almost never blog here and it made a simple factual comment easy. Another ani-mouse came along and spread the sour cheese between my comments to you. Sorry. Anonymous facts should be fine. Anonymous accusations - well I can't say that they would be as low down as an egg sucking dog because I am commenting anonamously - oh, I just did.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous4:34 PM

      At least the bad cheese ani-mouse honestly identified themselves with the /derp, which is strange to me, but I am a stranger on this blog.

      Delete
    7. All in good fun and good discussion!

      Delete
  34. think we can agree that people who harbor racist, homophobic and other intolerant behaviors are abhorrent. I think that we should also recognize that people with those attitudes think that their point of view is correct and that those that engage in behaviors that run counter to their own belief system and find those as abhorrent. However just because we disagree with, or even hate another's philosophy doesn't mean that anyone has the right to force them to change their behavior by enacting laws that prohibit it. Generally speaking, most, if not all people would seriously resent any type of intrusion on their personal liberties by being forced by law or outright coercion to behave in a manner contrary to their own personal beliefs.

    I may disagree with the thoughts or behaviors of what someone or a group of people have or do, but I have no right to inflict my will or personal world view upon them through legislating it. Isn't this exactly what the progressives argue when they detest the way that certain neo-cons and Christian fundamentalists want to ram their particular brand of morality on us? Why not simply ignore them instead, let them go about their lives as they choose, so long as it doesn't interfere with mine. Maybe pass legislation that prohibits them, or anyone else for that matter, from making me or anyone else adhere to their self righteous standards of good behavior. That I can agree with. But to pass laws to force them to change their behaviors and comply with someone else's? No. What's good for the goose is good for the gander; if someone doesn't like it when the religious right attempts to force their morality upon them, so how does the other side justify doing the same? How could that possibly make them better? Isn't that intolerance as well? Despite what Noah argues, there are people on the "liberal" side of the philosophical spectrum that do indeed want to make people conform to their own beliefs by passing laws that penalize them for failing to comply.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I get the impression that Noah (and quite a few others) also seems to think that because there are certain factions within the libertarians that are extreme that all are that way. Certainly not true, an increasing number are in that "Cosmotarian" category, believing that compromise and tolerance is the best policy, and that social justice is important. They (and I) simply do not believe that it should be legislated, enforced by the threat of punishment, loss of liberty or their personal property for pursuing their own lifestyle. So long as I inflict no physical or financial harm on another why should I be punished? Where's the tolerance from the other side(s)?

      I see what I would consider extreme views in the progressive/liberal and conservative sides as well, people with intolerance for other people's point of view. That should not be an indictment on the rest, so seems to me that it's rather disingenuous to be painting anyone who believes in any particular world view with so broad a brush.

      From a personal observation, my kids attended a "camp" with their youth group two weeks ago. They went to upstate NY to work on rehabs of homes. I forget what organization sponsored this, but it was certainly religious groups. The gathering consisted of people from a wide range of religious philosophies who participated. There were fundamentalist Christians, Born-agains, strict creationists (a real eye opener for them into the world of denial of scientific evidence), even Wicans, and people that are gay/lesbian. You would have imagined that those conservative Christians would have strong views against homosexuality (and the Wicans), and you would be right. What you might also have expected is that they would also be so intolerant of them that they wouldn't be attending a gathering such as this, and would openly speak out or exclude people, but you would be wrong. Mostly they do have that 'libertarian' live-and-let-live attitude. They certainly don't like or condone certain behaviors and have some rather odd justifications for their beliefs (from my own point of view of course), but so long as you don't interfere with theirs, they won't interfere with yours. We all have a libertarian streak somewhere within us, like it or not.

      Delete
    2. We all have a libertarian streak somewhere within us, like it or not.

      The way I interpret this is, there is a lot in libertarian philosophy (fuzzy edges of course since unanimity there isn't!) which is important and valid. The problem--in my view--with most libertarians is that they have essentially become obsessed with the legitimate kernels of truth in their philosophy and have forgotten the need to balance those truths with other important truths. Like, for example, the need to compromise, or the need to establish and enforce law in spite of the imperfect human process by which such law will necessarily be established.

      Delete
    3. I think this is just silly. We share a world, it is better if there are clear standards. Lets just replace "beliefs or behaviours" with a belief in driving on the left (or in some countries the right) side of the road. Or a belief in firing weapons randomly in public (why nobody has been hurt - yet).

      This is not a question of principle, this is a question of degree.

      Delete
    4. And with fundamental Christianity - well what about the conflicting rights of their children (or spouses) to behave differently? What about social pressure, to restrict the behaviour of other individuals in their society? It is complicated. Maximising effective freedom is very complex. The real error in Libertarianism is in thinking it is simple.

      Delete
  35. I made the same point about local power and libertarians many years ago. However, you need to rethink your points.

    Economic duress is definitely a coercive measure. Consider the economic sanctions against Iran. Those applying the sanctions are attempting to twist Iran's arm into complying with whatever the sanctioning parties are demanding (or the Iranian nation can become a collapsed state and its people pained and punished, etc., and regardless of the fact that no evidence has been revealed demonstrating that Iran has a nuclear-weapons program).

    In addition, there's a homosexual couple in the UK right now that has brought a legal action against the Church to force the Church to allow that couple to conduct a marriage ceremony between them in the Church. My understanding is that they expect the government to force the Church into conducting that ceremony. That has received support from members of the homosexual community. http://www.christian.org.uk/news/gay-couple-to-sue-church-over-gay-marriage-opt-out/

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    Replies
    1. Please note that that is in *the United Kingdom* which is another country from the USA. In particular, there is an established church, and no First Amendment.

      Delete
  36. Anonymous12:18 AM

    "After all, suppose a traffic cop refuses to issue speeding tickets to Korean people, and is threatened with being fired unless he agrees to write tickets to people of any race. Is he being "forced" to write tickets to Korean people?"

    YES

    "The ideal libertarian definition of "force" would seem to say "no", because the cop has the option to go find a new job whose requirements do not go against his principles.""

    IMAGINARY STRAWMAN FAIL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "IMAGINARY STRAWMAN FAIL"

      Go to some libertarian comment threads and claim that an employer is 'forcing' an employee to do something.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:12 PM

      Serious people don't hold up extremist kooks as "ideal" e.g. Osama bin Laden wasn't an "ideal Muslim".

      Delete
  37. As Pompey the Great of the ancient Roman Repubic said, "Do not quote laws to men with swords!".

    I doubt anyone here seriously think that without a strong state people would not use force to infringe upon other people's natural rights. Do you think our Bill of Rights would be enforced universally and voluntarily in such a libertarian utopia?

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  38. With the news lately about Mr. Yellen I was reading his famous "market for lemons" paper that is hard for libertarians to refute. Libertarian utopia is only ideal if the price mechanism is truly an efficient and instantaneous way to transfer information. I don't believe it is or ever can be and as long as asymmetric information persists the dream world of libertarian utopia types will be as likely as never-never land.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ms Yellen.

      Yes women can be economists too.

      Delete
  39. Aren't Person/Particle man part of Triangle Man and Universe man?

    ReplyDelete
  40. James1:17 PM

    Here's Murray Rothbard on the subject:

    “through the 1920’s, most American intellectuals were fundamentally “racist,” i.e., they upheld two guiding postulates: (1) that the white race in general, and the Anglo-Saxon wing of that race in particular, are inherently superior, intellectually and morally, to other races and ethnic groups, and particularly the brown and black races..."

    "Until literally mid-October 1994, it was shameful and taboo for anyone to talk publicly or write about, home truths which everyone, and I mean everyone, knew in their hearts and in private: that is, self-evident truths about race, intelligence, and heritability. What used to be widespread shared public knowledge about race and ethnicity among writers, publicists, and scholars, was suddenly driven out of the public square by Communist anthropologist Franz Boas and his associates in the 1930s, and it has been taboo ever since. Essentially, I mean the almost self-evident fact that individuals, ethnic groups, and races differ among themselves in intelligence and in many other traits, and that intelligence, as well as less controversial traits of temperament, are in large part hereditary.

    "when we as populists and libertarians abolish the welfare state in all of its aspects, and property rights and the free market shall be triumphant once more, many individuals and groups will predictably not like the end result. In that case, those ethnic and other groups who might be concentrated in lower-income or less prestigious occupations, guided by their socialistic mentors, will predictably raise the cry that free-market capitalism is evil and "discriminatory" and that therefore collectivism is needed to redress the balance. In that case, the intelligence argument will become useful to defend the market economy and the free society from ignorant or self-serving attacks. In short; racialist science is properly not an act of aggression or a cover for oppression of one group over another, but, on the contrary, an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors."

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2136&chapter=195367&layout=html&Itemid=27
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/ir/Ch75.html

    ReplyDelete
  41. James1:24 PM

    Murray Rothbard:

    “The Tutsi are an Ethiopid, Nilotic people. The Hutu, on the other hand, are short, squat Bantu, a closer approximation to what used to be called "Negro" in America. "Negroes" are now called "black," but the problem here is that the skin color of both the Tutsi and the Hutu are much the same. The real issue, as in most other cases, is not skin color but various character traits of different population groups.
 The crucial point is that, in both Rwanda and Burundi, Hutus and Tutsis have coexisted for centuries; the Tutsi are about 15 percent of the total population, the Hutu about 85 percent. And yet consistently, over the centuries, the Tutsi have totally dominated, and even enserfed, the Hutu. How are we to explain this consistent pattern of domination by a small minority? Could it be – dare I say it – that along with being taller, slimmer, more graceful and noble-looking, the Tutsi are far more i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t than the Hutu? And yet what else explains this overriding fact?

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard74.html


    “If, then, inequality of income is the inevitable corollary of freedom, then so too is inequality of control. In any organization, there will always be a minority of people who will rise to the position of leaders and others who will remain as followers in the rank and file. Robert Michels [fascist sociologist] discovered this as one of the great laws of sociology, "The Iron Law of Oligarchy." In every organized activity, no matter the sphere, a small number will become the "oligarchical" leaders and the others will follow.

    In the market economy, the leaders will inevitably earn more money than the rank and file. Within other organizations, the difference will only be that of control. But, in either case, ability and interest will select those who rise to the top.

    “If, then, the natural inequality of ability and of interest among men must make elites inevitable, the only sensible course is to abandon the chimera of equality and accept the universal necessity of leaders and followers. The task of the libertarian, the person dedicated to the idea of the free society, is not to inveigh against elites which, like the need for freedom, flow directly from the nature of man. The goal of the libertarian is rather to establish a free society… In this society the elites will be free to rise to their best level… we will discover "natural aristocracies" who will rise to prominence and leadership in every field. The point is to allow the rise of these natural aristocracies”.

    http://mises.org/fipandol/fipsec4.asp


    “The great fact of individual difference and variability (that is, inequality) is evident from the long record of human experience... Socially and economically, this variability manifests itself in the universal division of labor, and in the "Iron Law of Oligarchy" – the insight that, in every organization or activity, a few (generally the most able and/or the most interested) will end up as leaders, with the mass of the membership filling the ranks of the followers. In both cases, the same phenomenon is at work – outstanding success or leadership in any given activity is attained by a "natural aristocracy...

    The age-old record of inequality seems to indicate that this variability and diversity is rooted in the biological nature of man”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard31.html

    ReplyDelete
  42. You realize this is a completely bogus argument proposed by the religious right in order to show some "harm" to them from allowing gays to marry, don't you ?

    My comment to his "libertarian" B.S.:

    "Currently priests will refuse to marry you if you have been divorced, rabbi's can refuse to marry you if you are baptists, etc - all of which has nothing to do with our marriage laws and no one is suggesting "forcing" priests to do anything except for the religious right. And it would be blatantly unconstitutional to do so.

    Seeing libertarians repeat religious right B.S. is a sure sign they have sold out their principles to the right for political gain."

    ReplyDelete
  43. James3:05 PM

    Hans Hermann Hoppe:

    “the natural outcome of voluntary transactions between private property owners is non-egalitarian, hierarchical, and elitist. In every society, a few individuals acquire the status of an elite through talent. Due to superior achievements of wealth, wisdom, and bravery, these individuals come to possess natural authority... Moreover, because of selective mating, marriage, and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are likely to be passed on within a few noble families.”

    http://mises.org/etexts/intellectuals.asp


    “what true libertarians cannot emphasize enough, is that the restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social ‘discrimination’ and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multicultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of left libertarians. In other words, libertarians must be radical and uncompromising conservatives.”

    Democracy - The God That Failed: 207-08


    “civil rights legislation, i.e. affirmative action and forced integration… is responsible for the almost complete destruction of private property rights, and the erosion of freedom of contract, association, and disassociation.”

    http://mises.org/etexts/intellectuals.asp


    “One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as it is implied in the idea and institution of private property, if only towns and villages could and would do what they did as a matter of course until well into the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States: to post signs regarding entrance requirements to the town, and once in town for entering specific pieces of property (no beggars or bums or homeless, but also no Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, etc.); to kick out those who do not fulfill these requirements as trespassers.”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/on-free-immigration-and-forced-integration/


    “The best one may hope for… is a policy of utmost discrimination: of strict discrimination in favor of the human qualities of skill, character, and cultural compatibility… it implies that all immigrants must demonstrate through tests not only (English) language proficiency, but all-around superior (above-average) intellectual performance and character structure as well as a compatible system of values – with the predictable result of a systematic pro-European immigration bias.”

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/on-free-immigration-and-forced-integration/

    ReplyDelete
  44. James3:30 PM

    Ludwig von Mises:

    Mises in a letter to Ayn Rand:

    “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.”



    http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_4/21_4_3.pdf


    “the average common man is in many regards inferior to the average businessman. But this inferiority manifests itself first of all in his limited ability to think”

    http://mises.org/daily/2179
    



    “It is true that the masses do not think. But just for this reason they follow those who do think.”


    http://mises.org/books/socialism/part5_ch35.aspx


    “certain races have contributed nothing or very little to the development of civilization and can, in this sense, be called inferior.”



    http://mises.org/humanaction/chap3sec6.asp


    “It is perfectly legitimate to assume that the races are different in their cognitive abilities and in their willpower and accordingly are unequally suited for the task of setting up societies, and that the better races are characterized in particular by their special ability to strengthen social bonds.”
    


    Ludwig von Mises, The Market Economy, 1932, p. 297


    “It may be admitted that the races differ in talent and character and that there is no hope of ever seeing those differences resolved. Still, free-trade theory shows that even the more capable races derive an advantage from associating with the less capable and that social cooperation brings them the advantage of higher productivity in the total labor process”. 



    Mises, L. von. 1951. Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. pp. 325-326.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Noah also believes that legalizing drugs is a bad idea, apparently believing that the War on Drugs isn't a racial apartheid, and that it is just another success story of the government using its bully powers to protect minorities from petite bullies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/12/the-single-best-anti-gun-death-policy-ending-the-drug-war/266505/

      Delete
    2. It is really, really risky to tell other people what they think without first checking. In fact I dislike it in general. You should ask. I have heard this tendency to project ideas on to other called "mind raping". You should stop it.

      Delete
  46. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Gordon has no credibility among Libertarians and is a right-wing fruitcake who thinks Ted Cruz is 'libertarian-leaning.'

    He was part of a group of right-wing extremists that briefly seized control of the LP several years ago, gutted its platform, and put Bob Barr on the ballot. The right-wing types come in every decade or so pushing their brand of GOP 'liberty' fascism.

    Check some of the e-group a few years ago to see what Libertarians think of this guy.

    ReplyDelete
  47. There is something weirdly....universal about all these rights (permissions?) we are supposed to have.

    If you don't want to let redheads, Swedes or one-legged men into your house then whose opinion gets to trump yours? It just makes no sense. Freedom of disocciation goes hand in hand with freedom of association. You don't have to LIKE it, but no-one is asking you to like it or to morally endorse it?

    Why is this so hard for reasonably intelligent people to get? Why must everyone else be forced to flatter their moral conceits?

    ReplyDelete