Morning Links

Thursday, November 4th, 2010
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132 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    And that confession, made years ago and long since recanted, was obtained under conditions that any normal human being would describe as torture.

    But we aren’t talking about normal human beings, are we? We’re talking about the US Congress.

  2. #2 |  Jennifer | 

    “liberals have the most ‘feminine’ cognitive style” ~ snicker!

    Gotta be genetic though. I was raised to the right and go to church but in the end I’m a fairly cold and cynical individual. Empathy does not come easily to me and I loathe having to show emotion. The only person I truly feel love for in this world is my son. Damn, it’s depressing being a libertarian.

  3. #3 |  Jennifer | 

    Should say I was raised to the right and to go to church. I haven’t “been to church” since I was a kid.

  4. #4 |  Joe | 

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

    Anyone know how he did?

  5. #5 |  Joe | 

    I liked the science of libertarian morality. That is a good article.

  6. #6 |  K9kevlar | 

    When I was 15 I read quite a few Death Merchant books. Torture was cool back then because it was fiction. Now that it is reality – not so much.

  7. #7 |  Joe | 

    Bachman claims she became a Republican from reading Gore Vidal’s Burr.

    Just think, had she been reading Ayn Rand that day she might have become a libertarian*?

    * Yeah yeah, I know Ayn was too much of a statist to be a libertarian.

  8. #8 |  celticdragonchick | 

    I can hardly wait for Bachmann & friends to start the impeachment hearings of the commie/Moooslim/crypto fascist/Marxist/Pol Potist/whatever they call him this week…while trying to crash the entire world banking system next year when they refuse to raise the debt limit and force the US into automatic default.

  9. #9 |  Marty | 

    re: ‘This speaks volumes’ and ‘Stalin would have been proud’.

    if the only 2 things I knew about Roosevelt were his handling of the Japanese prior to Pearl Harbor and how he intimidated the Supreme Court, that’d be enough for me to dismiss him as a worthless asshole.

    if these 2 things were the only things I knew about Bush and his presidency, it’d be enough to dismiss him, too.

  10. #10 |  perlhaqr | 

    On the main charge, “murder in violation of the laws of war” (a crime that doesn’t appear to even exist in international law, given that combatants who kill other soldiers in combat are not violating the laws of war), the chief evidence against the then-15-year-old child soldier was his own confession.

    National Post seems unaware that it’s possible to be an unlawful combatant. And possibly unaware of the entire Geneva Convention. The key phrase here being “other soldiers”. If this kid wasn’t wearing a uniform identifying him as a member of an opposing organisation, then yes, he’s an unlawful combatant, and legally, the soldiers who captured him could have simply executed him.

  11. #11 |  albatross | 

    Yeah, wouldn’t you expect the low point of the Bush presidency to be one of the actual, unambiguous, disasters? Like having the worst terrorist attack in history take place during his watch, or having a massively incompetent disaster-response that led to more than a thousand dead and a wrecked New Orleans after Katrina, or having a civil war start up in Iraq after our invasion, leading to hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, or having the global economy melt down?

  12. #12 |  albatross | 

    perlhaqr:

    Does the same principle apply to US spies and special forces soldiers? Suppose we found out that Iran had done the same sh-t to some American special forces guy who was sneaking around out of uniform that we did to Khadr–what would be the right response to that?

  13. #13 |  André | 

    #11: I agree with him. Having thousands of Americans die unnecessary deaths on your watch is nowhere near as bad as being called a racist.

    Also, if you look at the difference between the US Government’s response to the attacks on 11 September and Katrina (giving money to victims, etc. etc.), you’ll see how nobody really gives enough of a shit about 1) the south 2) poor people/minorities.

  14. #14 |  Elliot | 

    I haven’t paid much attention to Bachman, other than the fact that Democrats hate her with a passion. I’ve only seen her interview with Chris Matthews (which made him look like a bitter dumbass, but I’ve seen lots of good people do that).

    Can a free market libertarian give me some clues why this woman is the “worst” thing about Republicans? Just so you know, I’m for open borders, freedom to marry whatever other consenting adults, and anti-police state. Also, I’m an atheist, but I’m not wetting my pants over the religious right turning America into a theocracy.

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Stalin would have been proud.

    The guy was 15 years old, old enough to be responsible for what he was doing (unless he was having sex, of course).

    As for the show trial hypothesis, what’s the matter with you anyway? Don’t you trust your government to do the right thing? How unAmerican.

  16. #16 |  Joe | 

    Elliot, Bachmann is neither as bad as the left makes her out to be or as good as some more to the right seem to insist. From the article it suggests it is unlikely she will get the leadership position she is running for. As far as her tea party bonofides, when she denouces the $250K of farm subsidies* she claimed on her own farm perhaps we can talk.

    If you are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

    * in full disclosure, I took the stimulous tax credit for work I did on my house. If they are offered, it is hard to turn them down (especially for a business), but at least denounce the public policy of farm subsidies.

  17. #17 |  Cynical in CA | 

    So much comment fodder in that Reason article about libertarian psychology:

    “Haidt and his colleagues eventually recognized that their Moral Foundations Questionnaire was blinkered by liberal academic bias by failing to include a sixth moral foundation, Liberty.”

    Words fail me. I’m beginning to think that liberty is a delusion. Does anyone really believe in liberty?

    “Most dishearteningly, liberals scored two full standard deviations below libertarians on economic liberty.”

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

    “Clearly, libertarians are not amoral.”

    I’ve seen damning with faint praise before, but there will never be another sentence written in human history that even approximates that. He might as well have written, “Clearly, libertarians are not hybrid vampire cockroaches bent on slaughtering every puppy, kitten and infant…”

    I could go on and on. All in all, this study tells me exactly nothing I or any other libertarian didn’t already know. But who knows, maybe some statist will chance upon a copy of Reason this month and be persuaded to abandon immorality. Breath holding commences now….

  18. #18 |  Joe | 

    As far as the Omar Khadrs of the world…child combatants are a problem, but not the cause of terrorism in the world. It is a terrible symptom of the problem. A kid, however, can be a hardened murderous cadre as we can see in gang violence in America or civil wars in Africa. So to pretend otherwise is grossly naive.

    That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to turn such a combatant. Torture, physical abuse, or even merely sending them to prison is not the answer. This is the right way.

  19. #19 |  Joe | 

    Then again, if we are going to be opposed to child soldiers, shouldn’t we be opposed to child soldiers?

    We give military assistance to Sudan? WTF?

  20. #20 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I find the whole lack of love/empathy conclusion to be puzzling… I was drawn to libertarianism precisely BECAUSE of my empathy for others. I don’t smoke pot, don’t own a gun, have never been harassed by cops or falsely arrested, don’t publish porn or sell tobacco, and don’t own a small business for the government to shit all over. If I weren’t empathetic, I’d say fuck everybody else and vote Republican for the tax breaks.

    To me, the two overriding characteristics of libertarians are the ability to put oneself in the shoes of others and to approach problems with cool logic rather than emotion. I can see how a lack of empathy would explain the second characteristic but it would seem to run contrary to the first.

  21. #21 |  Cynical in CA | 

    •Dear Republicans: This would be your first huge mistake.

    I’m confused. I thought we established the other day that divided government was a good thing. Is this not more division?

    If divided government is a good thing, wouldn’t 300,000,000/300,000,000 be the optimal situation?

  22. #22 |  Geoff | 

    #10 perlhaqr

    That’s the first thing you think of when you read that article? This 15 year old, fighting an occupying force in his 3rd world country didn’t have a neato matching uniform, so our matching billion dollar war fighters should have executed him on the spot, according to the Geneva Convention? And the details of his tortured interrogation don’t seem at all in violation of the rules and spirit of the Geneva Convention? Or is it justified because those rules only apply to outfitted soldiers? Maybe this kid IS the worst of the worst, but it should be pretty easy to come to that conclusion without a tortured confession and railroading. The US has zero high ground to stand on using torture as its method of ‘justice’. That is the point of the article, not that it’s hard for 3rd world fighters to find matching berets to wear.

  23. #23 |  Z | 

    See it’s not that thousands of minorities died/wound up homeless while he twiddled his thumbs, it’s that someone had the gall to call him on it.

  24. #24 |  albatross | 

    ClubMed:

    I think it depends on where you’re coming from to get to libertarianism. If you’re objecting to the use of centralized state power to shaft the powerless, you’re probably doing that partly from compassion. If you’re objecting to the use of centralized state power to coerce charity, you’re probably not doing that so much from compassion. (You may have many other good reasons for objecting to that, but probably not mainly compassion.)

  25. #25 |  Aresen | 

    ClubMedSux:

    Agree on the empathy thing. From my perspective, failing to look at the long term consequences of a policy and the suffering caused by those consequences shows a complete lack of empathy.

    This is especially true of (modern, not classical) liberals, who respond to points about the economic problems that will be caused by their policies with some variant of “we can’t let people suffer.”

  26. #26 |  KristenS | 

    To me, the two overriding characteristics of libertarians are the ability to put oneself in the shoes of others and to approach problems with cool logic rather than emotion

    This. Because I can feel at least sympathy for victims of wrong-door raids, puppycide, unlawful search & seizure, prosecution for legally-obtained pain medication, et al, is WHY I’m a libertarian. I can extrapolate that if those things happen to others, they could happen to me. It seems average non-lib Joe has the attitude “those people must be criminals and so this could never happen to me!”

  27. #27 |  Elliot | 

    ClubMedSux (#20):If I weren’t empathetic, I’d say fuck everybody else and vote Republican for the tax breaks.

    I agree with the rest of your statement. But I can’t fathom how anyone with a rational grasp of the free market and private property could ever see taxes as a way to exercise empathy.

    How is refraining from plundering Peter to help Paul anything but empathetic? How is that “fuck everybody else”?

    In a free country, you could help Paul all day long with your own time and money and try to persuade people through reason (not force) to also help Paul.

    This shit about respecting other people’s rights being “fuck everybody else” is just upside down and backwards as they come.

  28. #28 |  Derfel Cadarn | 

    I am sorry to admit that our justice would make Uncle Joe very proud. One would assume that we might want to do something about that. No?

  29. #29 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Quit being so mushy about child soldiers. The theory is that they will be older by the time they’re killed, so their hearts are in the right place.

  30. #30 |  Cyto | 

    @Albatross – I guess it depends on who you have empathy for. If you limit empathy only to the downtrodden poor, then you can explain state charity by empathy. But if you also have empathy for the person with a job or a business who is going to have his wealth confiscated by the state for state charity, then you can hardly be a liberal/progressive and hold your compassion.

    Therein probably lies the kernel that drives the pathologies of the left. Every person of even minor wealth must be a Scrooge McDuck caricature that can be demonized to the point of being impossible to share any empathy with so that they can wear their blinders to the injustice involved in stealing the product of one man’s labor to give to another man.

  31. #31 |  shecky | 

    #14 Elliot:

    if you really are a “open borders, freedom to marry whatever other consenting adults, and anti-police state” atheist, Bachman is pretty much a person you are not. And wants government to make sure you are not.

  32. #32 |  Elliot | 

    Joe (#16):Elliot, Bachmann is neither as bad as the left makes her out to be or as good as some more to the right seem to insist. From the article it suggests it is unlikely she will get the leadership position she is running for. As far as her tea party bonofides, when she denouces the $250K of farm subsidies* she claimed on her own farm perhaps we can talk.

    If her biggest negative is her personally taking a farm subsidy, I’d say that there are probably dozens of House Republicans with far worse ethical breaches.

    Balko thinks putting her in a leadership position would be a “big mistake”. I’m quite ignorant about her, so I’m looking for tangible facts about her, good or bad.

    Not that I think Balko is thinking along these lines, but if anyone is worried that Democrats would go apoplectic because they hate her and make her a big target, I wouldn’t consider that a valid reason for Republicans to rein her in. In my experiences, many Democrats get enraged over free market libertarian proponents more than they do the Republicans who actually deserve the scorn. I suspect such Democrats are more afraid of getting people to question the role of government than they are that the other party gets to hold the reins for awhile.

  33. #33 |  Jennifer | 

    Let us not confuse sympathy with empathy. I can be sympathetic all day. What I rarely do is “feel” someone else’s pain. I believe that to be a very big distinction. It also explains a certain disconnectedness. It keeps you from reacting on a strictly emotional level.

  34. #34 |  Elliot | 

    Cyto (#30):If you limit empathy only to the downtrodden poor, then you can explain state charity by empathy. But if you also have empathy for the person with a job or a business who is going to have his wealth confiscated by the state for state charity, then you can hardly be a liberal/progressive and hold your compassion.

    Nevermind that the businesses being hit by these punitive taxes and regulations are the ones who could be giving many poor people jobs.

    Consider the minimum wage laws. Proponents always demonize anyone who opposes raising the minimum wage as being against the lowly worker. But that’s backwards. Without a legal minimum, more people get work and people don’t lose part of the value of their money to inflation.

  35. #35 |  Cyto | 

    @Elliot

    You are describing the Democrat playbook. At every moment of my lifetime they have picked one person of power in the Republican party to be the devil, and focused their vitriol on that one person until they were removed (either by the Republicans or by other forces). They will undoubtedly do this with the Republican house leadership – probably the speaker. It really doesn’t matter if they deserve it, they are going to get the treatment anyway.

    In order the demons were: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, George Bush, Sarah Palin.

    Some of those could have earned the vitriol – Nixon comes to mind – others are just silly. Dole as Darth Vader is just silly, despite the dark eyebrows. And Palin? The worst you can say about her is that she’s silly and unprepared. And the most power she’s ever wielded was the veto pen in one of the least populous states in the nation. That’s hardly worthy of the dark empire.

    I may have missed a couple, but there is always a single demon – sometimes a secondary (like the sith), but generally they are proxies for the one true demon. Secondaries include Edwin Meese, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Dornan, Donald Rumsfeld, Glen Beck…

    I’ve noticed that the Republicans have been picking up this tactic the last decade+ to some degree with Bill Clinton and now Nancy Pelosi. I guess it is a tactic that works in a sound-bite world.

    By the way – Spell check wants to change Pelosi to Plosive or Peloponnese, which ties back to the auto-correct article. I’m sure there’s some pithy observation to be made there about the Greek letter Delta and “change”, but I’ll have to leave it as an exercise for the reader.

  36. #36 |  Joe | 

    Cyto is correct that in politics there is a tendency to make it personal, but as that thread on Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams showed, it is not something new or limited to any one party.

  37. #37 |  flukebucket | 

    I heard James Carville say today that he would absolutely love for Michelle Bachmann to get the power position she covets.

    Take that for whatever it is worth.

  38. #38 |  Joe | 

    fluke, did Carville’s wife put him up to that?

  39. #39 |  Pete | 

    The British Crown should initiate procedures with the ultimate aim of reversing the outcome of America’s war for independence.

    A lot of our combatants weren’t in proper uniform, so we broke a lot of rules. This should be submitted to judges for review and possible reversal.

  40. #40 |  flukebucket | 

    Joe

    Ha! Who knows? That is one very strange couple.

  41. #41 |  Les | 

    I’m quite ignorant about her, so I’m looking for tangible facts about her, good or bad.

    Just a few of these quotes indicate that she is either grossly unqualified for public service or perfectly suited for it. I just don’t know anymore. Either way, she’s a religious fundamentalist bigot.

    http://www.thebachmannrecord.com/thebachmannrecod.html

  42. #42 |  EH | 

    Elliot:
    How is refraining from plundering Peter to help Paul anything but empathetic?

    How do taxes qualify as “plundering?” You use the word in the most general sense possible, to refer to all taxes, so forgive me for thinking you sound a little crazy, or at least shrill.

  43. #43 |  EH | 

    Perlhaqr seems to be a flyby shit-disturber, but it seems apparent that they aren’t much in favor of the 2nd Amendment. I mean, if un-uniformed resistance during war is subject to summary execution, then the 2A is nothing but a target on your forehead.

  44. #44 |  DarkEFang | 

    #14 Elliot:

    “I haven’t paid much attention to Bachman, other than the fact that Democrats hate her with a passion…

    …Can a free market libertarian give me some clues why this woman is the “worst” thing about Republicans? J”

    I don’t know that she’s the worst, but she’s in the discussion.

    – At various times, Bachmann has stated that Barack Obama hates America, is anti-American and pals around with terrorists; people who support Obama, presumably by having voted for him, hate America; and members of Congress that have worked with the Obama administration on legislation or policy are anti-American.

    – Further, Bachmann is in favor of opening McCarthyite Congressional investigations/hearings into anti-American activities of members of Congress who support the Obama administration.

    – Bachmann may or may not be a Christian Dominionist, but Dominionist churches love her and make up the bulk of her donations. At least one Dominionist Church actually held a rally, broadcast to other churches around the nation, to solicit donations for Bachmann.

    – She believes that God personally chose her for the House and that she alone represents his will in Congress.

    – She believes that evolution is a hoax and that the earth is 6,000 years old.

    The Republican plan for the next two years is to prevent Congress from accomplishing anything positive that Obama can take credit for. At the same time, they want to appear to be attempting to work with the Democrats, who they’ll portray at being intransigent. There aren’t many Republicans who’ll screw that plan up as royally as Bachmann.

  45. #45 |  Elliot | 

    shecky (#31):if you really are a “open borders, freedom to marry whatever other consenting adults, and anti-police state” atheist, Bachman is pretty much a person you are not. And wants government to make sure you are not.

    I didn’t figure Bachman was on the same page as me. I’m just looking for particulars what sets her apart from Republicans who aren’t so bad.

    I don’t have respect for politicians, but I’m least disgusted by Ron Paul. Perhaps his son will prove to resist the status quo as much. By that measurement, unprincipled Republicans like McCain and Dole rank way down the list for me. Personally, I’m more concerned with the ones who try to find “common ground” with Democrats than with the firebrands and those who give lip service to the more ignorant aspects of religion (anti-evolution, anti-masturbation, etc.). The former end up doing tremendous damage to the American economy and to individual liberties. The latter rarely manage to get any of their political-religious agenda accomplished which affects me or the people I know. (My wife’s nephew was able to marry before Prop 8 passed, as one notable exception.)

    There are issues like foreign invasions, fascist drug warrior crap, and Arpaio-style law and order, which are worthy of as much attention as health care deform or cap and trade, for example. But those don’t always break down on party lines.

    Again, I’m ignorant of Bachman and I’m just looking for particulars.

  46. #46 |  not a viking | 

    Re Uniform/Geneva Conventions

    During my army training on the Geneva Conventions (and the Hague ones) we were told that the uniform requirement is very light, a ribbon around your arm or similar is fine, as long as it’s, well, uniform and distinguishable amongst fighters. Of course arguably since the Taliban/AQ fighters don’t give a toss about living up to their side of the conventions they aren’t protected by them either*.

    Also, just because a certain convention doesn’t forbid you to torture and forever detain people you don’t have to.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_Conventions#cite_ref-pictet_9-1

  47. #47 |  Elliot | 

    Les (#41):Just a few of these quotes indicate that she is either grossly unqualified for public service or perfectly suited for it. I just don’t know anymore. Either way, she’s a religious fundamentalist bigot.

    She’s definitely a kook when it comes to exploiting religion, citing verse and making delusional crap up to justify hating on gays. For that reason alone, I’d agree with Balko.

    But, for example, what shes about schools: while she may overstate a few things, I generally agree that collectivist brainwashing that goes on in government schools is a big problem. I wouldn’t look to someone like her to take the lead in changing things, because I’d worry that she would introduce alternative abominations. But I’d love to see an end to the government monopoly on education and a defanging of the teacher’s unions.

    Thanks for the information on Bachmann. That’s all I need to know.

  48. #48 |  Grenadier1 | 

    The geneva convention is post US revolution nice try but N/A.
    Yes US special forces who go into battle behind enemy lines are always subjected to torture when captured. As a matter of fact during WW2 the Germans declared that any Allied Paratroopers caught behind lines during an airborn drop would be classified as illegal combatants and executed on spot. It was an attempt to dissuade operations that did not really get put into practice.
    The Geneva Convention requirement for a uniform is actually fairly open. The Dutch resistance in WW2 used a simple Orange armband. Granted these are western rules and one cant really expect that Afghan mountain men would be aware of those requirements but armed resistance is a big boy game with big boy rules and if you are not ready to live by those then just stick with your day job. Rest assured those of us contemplating the coming festivities in the US are making those mental calculations.

  49. #49 |  Elliot | 

    EH (#42):How do taxes qualify as “plundering?” You use the word in the most general sense possible, to refer to all taxes, so forgive me for thinking you sound a little crazy, or at least shrill.

    Taxes are taking what someone else produced, against their will, under threat of force. I takes a certain amount of mental gymnastics to get around that fact, to try to pretend it’s something else.

    I’m the guy saying the emperor has no clothes. You’re the one pretending he does and calling me the nut.

    Go figure.

  50. #50 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #41 | Les — “Just a few of these quotes indicate that she is either grossly unqualified for public service or perfectly suited for it.”

    That made my day. She’s both. She’s Schrodinger’s Cat!

  51. #51 |  Elliot | 

    DarkEFang (#44):At various times, Bachmann has stated that Barack Obama hates America, is anti-American and pals around with terrorists…

    In a previous comment, I noted that her comments invoking religion to justify hating gays is sufficient for me to agree that she’s on the back end of the curve for Republicans.

    I don’t know if Obama hates this country, but he definitely has an alarming degree of antipathy for the characteristically American individualism. Never once have I heard him mention anything about individual rights.

    Also, his association with Bill Ayers, who was a terrorist and is unrepentant, was swept under the rug in 2008. Michael Moore made hundreds of millions of dollars for his movie trying to link Bush with bin Laden, But the MSM pretty much yawned about Ayers. I don’t think Obama actively supports any terrorism, but he got a huge pass on this one.

  52. #52 |  Les | 

    There are issues like foreign invasions, fascist drug warrior crap, and Arpaio-style law and order, which are worthy of as much attention as health care deform or cap and trade, for example.

    I agree with this 100% and it’s a shame more Americans don’t see it. You should know that Bachman is on the wrong side of all three of these issues. Like most fundamentalists, she’s an authoritarian at heart.

  53. #53 |  JOR | 

    Why is it that whenever people are distinguishing between “rational” and “emotional”, as if they were at opposite ends of some kind of continuum, what gets filed under which seems completely arbitrary and, well, emotional?

    And why is it that “scientific” attempts to understand moral psychology are always so silly? Come on; if you concoct some paradigm that just can’t account for obviously principled (I use “principled” here to indicate someone who believes in moral principles of some kind, whether they’re correct or not – a principled person can be a worse human being than an unprincipled one, if they have really stupid moral beliefs) people and sets them aside in some kind of Black Box (neurotics! sociopaths! or whatever), the problem is with your paradigm, not your test subjects. At least these guys realized that, but their fix was hardly ideal.

  54. #54 |  JOR | 

    All presidents and mainstream candidates for same support the US government’s various enforcement arms (military, police, feds, etc.), which are all huge terrorist organizations. With that, who gives a fuck about wannabes like Ayers.

  55. #55 |  matt | 

    Elliot : Ever heard of a thing called a “private school”? These private schools exist in or near basically every community in America… Taxes? Yeah how dare we demand people pay for the things they use daily.. Ayers? really? You want to rehash that after the media cycle ran on it for a year? People who don’t even pay attention to politics generally know of Ayers. Maybe because I lived south of Chicago at the time (while often staying in Chicago with my GF) I’ve heard the full story and to me it’s just a case of nothing. Lord help us if we were all blamed for the actions of acquaintances before we actually met them…

  56. #56 |  Les | 

    Ever heard of a thing called a “private school”? These private schools exist in or near basically every community in America…

    Of course, the problem is that most Americans can’t afford private schools and so have little choice as to where their kids go to school and the kind of education they receive. Allowing parents the freedom to choose which public school their kids go to is actually a very liberal idea.

  57. #57 |  JOR | 

    An example of what I mean is the account given of the libertarian response to the “trolley problem”. Why is applying the same utilitarian calculus necessarily more “rational”? I suppose the article doesn’t say whether libertarians were more likely to sacrifice the one to save the many (individualism, lol), only that they were more likely to answer both questions the same – but it does seem that way from the wording used. But if they were really interested in doing a serious study on this, instead of just writing off people’s responses as “based on emotion” (whatever that even means), they’d dig in and probe them for their reasons for giving the answers they did. Maybe some people believe (rightly, I think – and I’d think libertarians of all people would tend to agree with this), perhaps without fully understanding what they believe, that killing is morally worse than letting die; pushing a guy off a bridge at least might seem (rightly or wrongly) closer to killing over letting die than pulling a switch.

  58. #58 |  matt | 

    LES : So you believe if we closed public schools that suddenly those same private schools will be cheaper? Because that is what Elliot was calling for…

  59. #59 |  Brandon | 

    Did anyone else think, briefly, that this study may have just been a veiled attempt to classify libertarianism as a mental illness, thus allowing the statists to get us out of the way “for our own good?”

  60. #60 |  Brandon | 

    And then I got to the last paragraph and developed a man-crush on Ronald Bailey.

  61. #61 |  matt | 

    Well aren’t you a paranoid libertarian… off to the sanitarium for you!!

  62. #62 |  matt | 

    Tongueincheek

  63. #63 |  Windy | 

    Matt, the answer to your question is “no”, but without public school funding via taxation, private schools become affordable to almost everyone.

  64. #64 |  JOR | 

    #59,

    I almost got the vibe that the study was trying to turn the whole human experience into one big mental illness. With liberals as hysterical lunatics, conservatives as domineering bullies, libertarians as ruthless rationalizing sociopaths.

  65. #65 |  Aaron | 

    I believe that it would be perfectly acceptable for a soldier to kill someone firing at him; at the same time I believe it is monstrous to torture the same person.

  66. #66 |  JOR | 

    One more note comes to mind for now:

    Someone who, say, grows up in a good home and a nice little community is probably likely to love their family and neighbors more dearly than someone with a shitty growing up experience. And because of their experiences they may just have more faith in authority figures generally, even if their own narrow experience isn’t representative. And so they will tend to be “collectivist” (the study considers attachments and affection between individuals to be collectivist; I find this notion utterly baffling – to me there is nothing more individualist than genuine love and friendship and understanding between individuals, but I’m weird and idiosyncratic like that) by the study’s standards, as a conclusion from the assumptions they make about individuals, because of their experiences. The “collectivism” isn’t a basic causal force bending their political or moral beliefs a certain way, it’s the effect of the particular political and moral beliefs they hold.

    A similar point can be made for all the different categories and sliding scale thimgymajiggers and whatnots the study tries to classify, I’m sure; I only selected this one as a very easy example.

  67. #67 |  Les | 

    So you believe if we closed public schools that suddenly those same private schools will be cheaper? Because that is what Elliot was calling for…

    I thought he was calling for an end to the “government monopoly” on education. While the government doesn’t have a complete monopoly (since, as you pointed out, private schools do exist), it does when it comes to people who can’t afford private education, in that the government completely controls public education choices for lower and middle class citizens.

    This is why I feel vouchers are necessary to give parents the freedom they deserve to choose what they think are the best schools for their kids.

  68. #68 |  Cynical in CA | 

    The government monopoly on education is complete via regulation, licensure and taxation of “private” schools. Private schools must also meet State-approved curriculum requirements.

    Add to that the inescapability of property taxes, which fund public schools, and the individual who chooses a “private” school must pay:

    1. “Private” school tuition
    2. Taxes that fund public schools
    3. The opportunity costs of not being able to spend the tax money on something else more desirable.

    Is it any wonder why only the rich can afford “private” school? They’re purchasing exclusivity.

    For the vast majority, public school is the only viable option. And even though the vast majority would still attend school and have to pay for it even if it weren’t compulsory, the service offered by the State is vastly inferior to and far more costly than what the freed market would offer through competition. That is not just libertarian doctrine, it’s bedrock common sense.

    And those are just economic arguments. I proved my point without once referring to freedom. You know why? Because most people wouldn’t know freedom if it bit them in the ass. And if it did, they’d call a cop to kill it.

  69. #69 |  delta | 

    I’m glad you linked to the libertarian morality article. Although the editorializing in the last paragraph was flat-out clownish.

    Interesting case there on the “stop the trolley” puzzle. (To save 5 people, options (1) flip track switch, kill one worker, (2) throw fat guy in way to stop trolley. Libertarians alone find both options equivalent.) “Why the difference? The utilitarian moral calculus is the same—save five by killing one.”

    The obvious thing that occurs to me is that where I believe option (1) is credible, I flat-out just don’t believe option (2) as being physically likely to work, so I would be unwilling to sign off on it. It’s potentially an interesting theory that libertarians are greater literalists, and willing to apply received written rules word-for-word, neither massaging it for emotional bias nor comparing to outside research to see if they’re reasonable to apply.

    It’s similar to the people in this thread defending the terrible abuse of Omar Khadr as being not-literally-prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and saying things like, “Granted these are western rules and one cant really expect that Afghan mountain men would be aware of those requirements but armed resistance is a big boy game with big boy rules and if you are not ready to live by those then just stick with your day job.”

    So it’s not surprising that libertarians score high on the Systemizing scale which is also correlated with autism. Although I don’t vote libertarian anymore, I can sympathize in dealing with similar tendencies myself.

  70. #70 |  Brandon | 

    So delta seems to regard libertarianism as a mental illness, because…why? Because he considers himself borderline autistic, therefore everyone who believes in individualism must be as well?

  71. #71 |  Elliot | 

    JOR (#54):All presidents and mainstream candidates for same support the US government’s various enforcement arms (military, police, feds, etc.), which are all huge terrorist organizations. With that, who gives a fuck about wannabes like Ayers.

    “Terrorism” has a specific meaning. It doesn’t just mean people who use deadly force in a way you dislike. It describes particular tactics, targeting innocent civilians as a way to create chaos and unrest among the “enemy” population, as a means to unsettle the government and demoralize the military (or, perhaps, to provoke them into a costly quagmire).

    While I’m sure we could agree on a phone-book-sized list of things that US military and law enforcement have done wrong, I think there are only a few narrow examples of actual terrorism.

    You say “mainstream candidates”, but I guess that would leave out Ron Paul, who was the only candidate who said he would simply bring the troops home immediately if elected.

    I care about Ayers because he targeted most of the same places that the 9/11 terrorists targeted, he was never punished, and he’s unrepentant. If some GOP candidate rubbed elbows with some militia McVeigh wannabe in the past, there would be 24/7 obsession about it on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NY Times, etc.. As there should be.

    It’s like someone wearing a Che t-shirt making hay out of Rich Iott wearing a Nazi uniform for reenactments. Both celebrate or honor mass murderers, but violent “left-wing” radicals get a huge pass.

  72. #72 |  JOR | 

    #71,

    Yes, I’m quite aware that terrorism is the use of violence against a relatively small (and usually relatively undefended or “soft”) sample of a population, preferably targeted while going about fairly peaceful ordinary activities where there is a sense of safety and security, to scare or demoralize the rest of them into doing something you want. I would make a clear distinction between terrorism and violence undertaken solely to affect the person or limited group being targeted in some way. And I would deny that terrorism is necessarily worse than the latter kind of violence (for example, the Holocaust was worse than most acts of terrorism, even though its aim was not to scare or demoralize anyone into anything, but rather to exterminate a group of people wholesale). I was using the word “terrorist” with this specific meaning, not just to refer to “violence I don’t like”.

    Ron Paul was not anything close to a mainstream candidate, though I do believe he supports some terrorism (as most people do).

  73. #73 |  Elliot | 

    Brandon (#70):So delta seems to regard libertarianism as a mental illness, because…why? Because he considers himself borderline autistic, therefore everyone who believes in individualism must be as well?

    I have known a couple people diagnosed as autistic. I’ve read a fair amount about autism, including an autobiography by someone with Asperger’s: From Zaftig to Aspie. In my layperson opinion, the many highly intelligent, nerdy people I’ve been around probably have a much higher than average chance of having Asperger’s. And, in my admittedly anecdotal experience, some of those individuals who show signs of being on the spectrum, who have less empathy for others, are oftentimes more authoritarian and less libertarian. They like rules and order. They can’t fathom why someone might want to do things a different way than what they expect is the norm.

    On the other hand, quite a few other nerdy people I know have a strong affinity for uniqueness and non-conformity and tend to dislike authority. They don’t know how to fit in and don’t understand why people would want to. They’ve been picked on and ostracized for being “weird”. (I doubt all of the people I have in mind are on the spectrum, so I’m generalizing a bit loosely here.)

    These two types are not going to see eye to eye—literally or figuratively. I don’t think it serves any purpose to try to pigeonhole A.S. people politically or ethically.

  74. #74 |  Flight 741 | 

    Anyone else think the upticks/downticks on this thread are a little unusual?

    As far as the trolley idea goes, the first thing(s) that came to mind was “In what plausible scenario would pushing the fat guy on the tracks save the trolley, isn’t there anything else around that would work, how fat is he?” The second, of course, was that this is all about a willingness to get one’s hands dirty. Pulling the lever gives you a little distance from the end result.
    And now for the -7 downticks for this comment…for reasons unknown.

  75. #75 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    …a phone-book-sized list of things that US military and law enforcement have done wrong, I think there are only a few narrow examples of actual terrorism.

    Murray Rothbard disagrees.

  76. #76 |  Matt | 

    It’s potentially an interesting theory that libertarians are greater literalists, and willing to apply received written rules word-for-word, neither massaging it for emotional bias nor comparing to outside research to see if they’re reasonable to apply.

    I don’t see how that conclusion is supported; the article doesn’t say that libertarians refused the terms of the question at a lower rate, only that libertarians were more consistent in how they answered, given that moving the switch and pushing the fat man both cause someone to die. I happen to agree with you the question is silly (a man fat enough to stop a speeding trolley is going to be unmovable to the average man; you would need a forklift to get him off the bridge, although he might just collapse the bridge on his own!).

    The conclusion I draw is that libertarians tend to look more at the big picture, the overall result, and this is why libertarians are always harping on the unintended consequences of policy.

    The trolley scenario, despite its silliness, tells us something about the psychology of people in a democracy. The average person, for example, would never think of breaking into his neighbor’s house and removing pornography, violent video games, marijuana, or anything else he doesn’t think the neighbor should have. But he may indeed be willing to vote for a politician who promises to ban those things, even though the end result is the same. This is akin to moving a switch to kill someone, rather than killing them directly.

  77. #77 |  Elliot | 

    matt (#55):Ever heard of a thing called a “private school”? These private schools exist in or near basically every community in America…

    People who send their children to private schools still have to pay for everyone else’s kids to be put through the government education mills. Even worse, people who don’t have children pay the same taxes.

    Taxes? Yeah how dare we demand people pay for the things they use daily..

    You mean, like government schools?

    I think each person should pay for what he or she uses. Furthermore, each person should have the choice not to use something and not to pay for it.

    I don’t use the DEA or ATF. I don’t use the American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (and don’t appreciate anyone claiming they are acting in my name).

    Why do I have to pay for them?

    Ayers? really? You want to rehash that after the media cycle ran on it for a year?

    Except they didn’t. Only Fox and talk radio got much into the details. The other outlets gave it a few seconds, shrugged their shoulders, and moved on. Imagine if McCain had similar ties with some militia leader who tried to blow up some feds, but failed, and got out of jail on a technicality. Would the MSM have treated such a connection as tersely as they treated Obama-Ayers?

    When people wearing Che t-shirts or sporting Mao bags are treated the same as those with Nazi fetishes, please let me know. I, for one, am tired of the Coke vs. Pepsi wars causing people to stop thinking and give one “side’s” radicals a ho hum.

    People who don’t even pay attention to politics generally know of Ayers. Maybe because I lived south of Chicago at the time (while often staying in Chicago with my GF) I’ve heard the full story and to me it’s just a case of nothing. Lord help us if we were all blamed for the actions of acquaintances before we actually met them…

    The guy bombed places, got off on a technicality, and is unrepentant. It’s not a “case of nothing” just because the guy was a “leftist” who was fighting “the man” any more than McVeigh, had his bomb malfunctioned, would be a “case of nothing”.

  78. #78 |  Elliot | 

    matt (#58):So you believe if we closed public schools that suddenly those same private schools will be cheaper? Because that is what Elliot was calling for…

    Don’t put words in my keyboard.

    I didn’t call for government schools to be closed. I just think they should be paid for by the people who use them or by voluntary donations, just like private schools are funded.

    I’ve seen some people suggest that the government could auction schools off to private education providers and use the proceeds to refund property taxes. That seems to make some sense to me, but I’m sure there are lots of other ways to handle the problem.

    Whether private schools would be cheaper in a free market, I couldn’t say. I imagine that there would be different levels of cost and quality. You might get to send your kids to school for pennies if you didn’t mind them being taught that the earth was 6,000 years old. Or, you might get celebrities organizing fundraisers to help defray the cost of sending your kid to a school that would brainwash them with idiotic political ideas.

    I just know that threatening to evict the little old lady down the street if she doesn’t pay property taxes is not the way ethical people handle the issue of educating children.

  79. #79 |  Elliot | 

    JOR (#66):…the study considers attachments and affection between individuals to be collectivist; I find this notion utterly baffling – to me there is nothing more individualist than genuine love and friendship and understanding between individuals, but I’m weird and idiosyncratic like that…

    I agree.

    The stereotype of the individualist being a hermit on an island or in a cabin in the woods is just a way to demonize the quaint notion that people should be free to make their own choices about things that concern them.

  80. #80 |  JOR | 

    “The trolley scenario, despite its silliness, tells us something about the psychology of people in a democracy. The average person, for example, would never think of breaking into his neighbor’s house and removing pornography, violent video games, marijuana, or anything else he doesn’t think the neighbor should have. But he may indeed be willing to vote for a politician who promises to ban those things, even though the end result is the same. This is akin to moving a switch to kill someone, rather than killing them directly.”

    I think this is a much better point than trying to pin differences in moral belief to “emotionalism” or “selfishness” or “autism” any other kind of Bulveristic speculations about so-called personality disorders. But I think the real issue is just that libertarians have substantive differences of opinion on moral and political questions from other folks (being a libertarian, I think the libertarians tend to be right); trying to find substance-neutral methodological or psychological explanations for differing beliefs is usually just intellectual laziness or outright dishonesty at work. And when it isn’t, it’s still silly: the Marxists believe that one’s politics and morals are determined by Class Consciousness; the Calvinists think one’s theological beliefs are determined by whether God randomly selected one for salvation or damnation in the timeless eternity before creation; “scientists” come up with more complex but equally Bulvertastic classification schemes; and pop-science commentators are perhaps the most ridiculous fools of all – when they don’t interpret everything as part of some strategy for getting laid (don’t tell the monks!) they manage to come up with something even dumber. Not all of these people are just being lazy or dishonest, but none of them do much to foster any understanding of why people believe and practice as they do.

  81. #81 |  Les | 

    Elliot, Ayers doesn’t bug me because I look at him as more of an idiot vandal.

    If we want to label people in the mainstream as terrorists we should stick to people who actively assisted terrorist groups in getting weapons and training. You know, people like Ronald Reagan.

  82. #82 |  Elliot | 

    @Les (#81), why is it that bombs in the hands of “leftist” radicals who are “stickin’ it to the man” are silly playthings (mere vandalism), but when Randy Weaver shaved off half an inch too much on a gun barrel, it’s open season on his wife and son?

    The 60s, “leftist” radicals, and even communist mass murderers somehow get the benefit of minimizing their actions (a case of special pleading).

    All I would like to see is that such people be treated exactly like the “non-leftist” counterparts. You know, like Goering vs. Guevara, Ayers vs. some McVeigh wannabe who failed to kill people, Mao vs. Hitler, etc..

  83. #83 |  Dakota | 

    Obviously you throw the fat lard on the tracks. Anyone fat enough to stop a trolly isn’t going to live much longer anyway and will likely have a poor quality of life. In addition, what with all the diabeetus he probably has he’s going to fuck up our risk pool and make Obamacare really expensive.

  84. #84 |  matt | 

    Windy : How would they suddenly become affordable? I mean sure if you cut the quality of education down to what we had in the early 1900s the prices would go down some but I don’t see that as a valid option in today’s world (nice little race to the bottom woot)…

  85. #85 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #78 | Elliot — “Whether private schools would be cheaper in a free market, I couldn’t say.”

    Rothbard, Mises, Hayek, Hoppe and all the classical liberal and modern Austrian economists could. In the end, competition and real price discovery in a freed market would have to make schools their most efficient. It is State privilege that distorts price discovery and kills competition.

  86. #86 |  matt | 

    Elliot : Ayers was all over the news just like Wright and his sermon. Ayers never killed anyone and contrary to what you believe there are ample examples of him apologizing for his actions including a personal apology to Richard Elrod. Ayers gave OBama 200 bucks and hosted a meet and greet while serving at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

    Just by posting on the internet your using technology either directly developed or based off tech developed with government monies :P

    McCain had much worse ties then Ayers but really who gives a flip?

    The old lady is a strawman…

  87. #87 |  Elliot | 

    @ Cynical (#85), free markets tend to make prices their most efficient.

    But even if they didn’t, I find the idea of tossing a little old lady out in the street for not paying property taxes an abominable way to see to it that children get educated. So the efficiency of the free market is a nice result, but not the justification. Freedom, and end in and of itself, is the justification.

  88. #88 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Matt, are you really unaware of how the State distorts the market? How the State creates perverse incentives, bubbles, price distortions, and restricts competition? How States have no profit motive? All of which drive costs through the roof. How can you even argue this with a straight face?

    I like to restrict my arguments to logic and morality, but check out some statistics sometime about how much money is spent per student and how American students compare to the rest of the world. The public teachers unions and public school administrators are paid far above what “private” school teachers and administrators are paid, and they get defined pension benefits — an issue that is ready to bankrupt several of the States.

    Lysander Spooner was outraged, along with many of his fellow citizens, by how much the U.S. Postal Service charged its “customers.” He went into business against them with a flat 3-cent stamp for 1st-Class delivery and would have put them out of business if they didn’t bring the hammer down on him.

    It is a fact that free market competition is the means to produce the lowest prices possible according to the desires of the individuals who comprise the economy. Government intervention raises prices in each and every case.

  89. #89 |  matt | 

    For god’s sake the city of Chicago gave Ayers the citizen of the year award in 1997. Ayers and Obama were public knowledge for many years before it suddenly become a controversy. I lived south of Chicago but I also would stay in the city for the weekends during that time period…

  90. #90 |  matt | 

    Cynical : I find it amusing you would bring up the US post office which runs as a private business. Not to mention that private delivery companies such as fedex/UPS/etc use the USPS to deliver some of their packages because the USPS delivers to areas where otherwise it’s not cost effective to provide service..

  91. #91 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #86 | matt — “Just by posting on the internet your using technology either directly developed or based off tech developed with government monies.”

    Private industry in a free market would have developed it sooner, better and less expensively. It’s not our fault that the government cheated. After all, they can kill with impunity to get their way — how do you trump that?

  92. #92 |  matt | 

    Oh btw for those that aren’t aware cynical is referring to the 1840s era when the post office was basically gouging customers..

  93. #93 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #90 | matt — “Cynical : I find it amusing you would bring up the US post office which runs as a private business.”

    Not sure why you’re so amused, Matt. The USPS is not a private business, and the scope of my comment was 1st-Class mail delivery, which is a monopoly. If you don’t believe me, try setting up a 1st-Class mail delivery business and let me know how that goes for you.

  94. #94 |  matt | 

    What are you smoking? Private industry brought us AOL Compuserve and a bunch of competitive and non-compatible services which were of course based on the infrastructure that the government had built. If not for the government being willing to pony up the money to create the backbone of the internet we’d probably still be using BBSes…

  95. #95 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #92 | matt — “Oh btw for those that aren’t aware …”

    Pretty sure we’re the last two in here, Matt. Be sure to turn out the light when you’re done.

  96. #96 |  Cynical in CA | 

    @#94 | matt

    Your argument fails on logical grounds, Matt. But please do educate me by providing one link to support your claim.

  97. #97 |  Cynical in CA | 

    You don’t need to down-arrow my comments, Matt. I know it’s you who’s doing it. It would be more edifying and dignified for you to try to substantiate your illogical claims.

  98. #98 |  matt | 

    You obviously don’t understand computer history or the history of the internet….

  99. #99 |  matt | 

    I suggest you start your reading with those two subjects..

  100. #100 |  matt | 

    You seem to think you know everything but the reality is you don’t. Everything I refresh this page our comments go up and down..

  101. #101 |  matt | 

    wow autocorrect ftl…

  102. #102 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The problem with getting old is that you have to see people talk about history wrong again and again. That and the diapers.

  103. #103 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    At #102 I was talking about matt’s knowledge of the tech industry.

  104. #104 |  matt | 

    Uh I’ve been involved with the computer industry for over 20 years. So I would love for you to point out where I am incorrect..

    Oh there you go cynical at least one of the lurkers has spoke up.

  105. #105 |  Elliot | 

    @ matt (#86), Ayers was mentioned all over the place on Fox and talk radio. The rest of the media, however, basically yawned. They reported a few details, shrugged their shoulders, and then obsessed over Bristol Palin or some other juicy gossip.

    I use the USPS, too. The bastards in Washington enforced a monopoly going back a couple centuries, so I don’t get the choice. What’s your point?

    I’m not defending McCain or Palin. They got the full rectal exam they deserved. And, I despise them both, each in their own way.

    But Obama’s limited political experience, his political philosophy and upbringing, lack of private sector experience, and associations were not scrutinized as other candidates’ details were. He was an exciting speaker. He would be the first black president. He was charming and fresh and new. Why bother looking beneath the surface at his substance? They had their Cinderella story, so they took it easy on him.

    The old lady is a strawman…

    I only wish that you could trade places with one of the many people being evicted because they couldn’t afford to pay their taxes—at least for a few days to experience the deprivation, fear, and humiliation of having the sheriff show up to escort you out of the home you and your spouse paid off decades ago, to know that strangers would be pawing through your personal belongings, selling off that which was precious to you…all to make sure the local schools were funded.

    That happens every damned day, dozens of times. I know people who face hard choices to avoid that problem, who must worry that a broken pipe, a burned out air conditioner, or some other unexpected expense will cost them more than they can afford.

  106. #106 |  matt | 

    Look the private industry can do some wonderful stuff but lets not gloss over the fact that the government provided most of the funds for computer research in the early 1900s and even today provides a great deal of funds for the development of cutting edge technology.. Sticking to the dogma that the private industry will save us all is no better then sticking to the dogma that government will save us all…

  107. #107 |  matt | 

    Well Elliot you should know by now that the media in general prefers to obsess over juicy gossip and the story of Ayers and what he did +40 years ago just wasn’t juicy (except to partisons such as you).

    My point? uh you know what fedex and ups is right?

    You’re the one that brought up McCain and frankly I don’t care about what an aquantice did 20 years ago either…

    Well as evidenced by Obama’s actions while in the political arena it was obvious that he was a moderate who at times bent over backwards to get a consensus (comments from state Republicans support this notion). His upbringing was a classic American story where a disadvantaged single parent child worked hard and grew up to be a successful politician (could of been a rich lawyer if he wanted to). I didn’t see anything wrong with that either. I obviously disagree with your assessment that the media took it easy on him considering the media was more then happy to drag him through the mud on the most obscure connections. Unless you are aware of some mind blowing scandal that wasn’t covered and would like to share that with me.

    Don’t even try to lecture me on being evicted. You have no clue what kind of shit I had to deal with as a kid and young adult..

  108. #108 |  Elliot | 

    matt (#107):Well Elliot you should know by now that the media in general prefers to obsess over juicy gossip and the story of Ayers and what he did +40 years ago just wasn’t juicy (except to partisons such as you).

    I don’t vote and I’m only asking that the media be as thorough investigating Democrats as they do Republicans. But you call me the partisan? That’s just bizarre.

    …you know what fedex and ups is right?

    USPS has a monopoly on first-class mail.

    Well as evidenced by Obama’s actions while in the political arena it was obvious that he was a moderate who at times bent over backwards to get a consensus…

    Obama the “moderate”?

    There’s no point in us even discussing that.

    Don’t even try to lecture me on being evicted. You have no clue what kind of shit I had to deal with as a kid and young adult.

    Don’t call the plight of real people a “strawman”.

  109. #109 |  delta | 

    #91: “Private industry in a free market would have developed it [the Internet] sooner, better and less expensively. It’s not our fault that the government cheated. After all, they can kill with impunity to get their way — how do you trump that?”

    That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read.

  110. #110 |  Aaron | 

    Delta, there are people who refuse to believe that it’s possible for the government to ever contribute positively toward something.

    The Internet was created by the government, pure and simple. Private industry did nothing comparable. This is a pure and honest fact. Government 1, private industry 0.

    Now, once you add on a whole bunch of other things, the situations gets far murkier, with plenty of negatives and positives get added on both columns.

  111. #111 |  OBTC | 

    The “Stalin would be proud” link …

    made me cry.

  112. #112 |  Les | 

    All I would like to see is that such people be treated exactly like the “non-leftist” counterparts.

    Again, I agree 100%. But what tends to happen is that people make excuses for their team. It happens just as much on the right as on the left. People who think that Henry Kissinger deserves respect are no different from people who feel the same way about Che Guevara.

  113. #113 |  Elliot | 

    Aaron (#110):Delta, there are people who refuse to believe that it’s possible for the government to ever contribute positively toward something.

    While some people may make such a claim, you’ll find that most laissez-faire advocates don’t make such absolute statements.

    I could do all kinds of “positive” things if I get to use your money to pay for it, on top of giving myself special advantages to keep you from competing on an equal basis with me (or at all, in the case of a monopoly).

    That only government could carry out the Apollo program in the 60s is testament to the power of using plundered money. But even with all of those advantages, there are copious examples of the suppression of free market choices resulting in economic disaster. Take the USSR and North Korea, for starters. Then look at Social Security, Medicare, ObamaPelosiCare, the “Green Jobs” in Spain, price controls for cities under siege, etc..

    Yes, sometimes the unethical use of brute force accomplishes a goal easier than respecting the freedom of others. But so what? It’s unethical.

    Using reason to convince others is the only ethical approach, aside from the use of force in defense.

    The Internet was created by the government, pure and simple. Private industry did nothing comparable.

    What the government did to kick off the internet was peanuts compared to how private enterprise has enhanced internet-related technology and used it to implement new market possibilities.

    Private industry has done magnificent things, far beyond the scope of the original ARPANET. All sorts of inventions, commercially profitable innovations, skyscrapers, factories, etc. were made while the government only served as an obstacle.

    This is a pure and honest fact. Government 1, private industry 0.

    More like government 100, industry 10,000,000.

    Now, once you add on a whole bunch of other things, the situations gets far murkier, with plenty of negatives and positives get added on both columns.

    It’s ultimately pointless to try to guess what would happen if the government had been kept to a minimum and people allowed to engage in free market activity. If you think “Obama Saved Capitalism” or other fairy tales, then you’ve already made up your mind what result you want and you won’t do anything but imagine a bunch of Madoffs and Enrons wreaking havoc.

    While I can only guess that things would be much better for most people, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s ethical. Spending other people’s money to do “positive” things isn’t ethical. End of story.

  114. #114 |  Elliot | 

    Les (#112):But what tends to happen is that people make excuses for their team. It happens just as much on the right as on the left. People who think that Henry Kissinger deserves respect are no different from people who feel the same way about Che Guevara.

    I’ve never seen anyone sporting a Kissinger t-shirt or an nightclub called “Henry” with a neon icon of his likeness.

    The Nazis had their Nuremberg and anyone who praises them is dismissed from decent society and relegated to the kook fringe.

    Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Pol Pot, Castro, and the Kims died or will die old men, never being subjected to trial. (Ceauşescu was one exception, though his crimes never seemed to make an impact on people pushing socialist agendas.) The New York Times still has Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize (at least as recently as a few years ago), but no newspaper which published articles by a reporter who denied the Jewish Holocaust could get away with such a travesty.

    No, the “right” doesn’t get away with it “just as much”. For that matter, the underlying premises of the “left-right” political model are loaded with bias. Hitler and Stalin were nearly identical in their abominations, but they are stupidly put as far apart on the “spectrum” as possible. Meanwhile, chumps like Mark Potok of the SPLC get away with classifying libertarians like Judge Andrew Napolitano as “right wing extremists”, as though he were closer to fascism than the Obama/Pelosi/Reid bunch who engaged in economic fascism by interfering in banks, insurance companies, and automakers.

    There is no parity.

  115. #115 |  Justthisguy | 

    Reading just maybe a third of the comments on this post is making me think seriously about changing my voting registration from Libertarian to Republican.

    Kids, these days…

  116. #116 |  Bill | 

    Regarding the trolley dilemma, I think the word “libertarian” doesn’t mean what they think it means. When considering the case of the worker and the switch, a libertarian might take a utilitarian approach: after all, the worker has assumed a degree of risk in choosing employment in the trolley industry, and the riders assume a certain risk by choosing to ride the trolley. But the fat man is merely a bystander, who has not knowingly assumed the risk that a lunatic will throw him off a bridge. By doing so, you are conscripting him for use as a makeshift trolley brake, which is very un-libertarian. Or, to consider it in different terms:

    Guy Administering Test: Would you throw the fat man off the bridge to save the lives of the five trolley passengers?:

    “Libertarian”: Absolutely. It only makes sense to sacrifice the individual to save the many.

    GAT: Well, it so happens that the fat man also has a very fat wallet. Would you be willing to take the wallet and throw it in front of the trolley to save the passengers?

    L: Well…he gets the money back, right?

    GAT: No, the money gets ground up in the trolley’s gears. He doesn’t get it back.

    L: Well, then, no! That’d be like TAXATION! I’m a libertarian! I’ve got principles!

  117. #117 |  Joe | 

    Is Michael Moore the fat guy?

  118. #118 |  BSK | 

    Let’s look at other possible solutions for the trolley problem:

    Religious person: Either “God willed it to be, so I shall not interfere” or “I’ll pray for it to stop!”
    Communist: “Lets all throw ourselves in front of the train together while simultaneously shooting the conductor and passengers. All must share the misery.”
    Feminist: “Throw a fat man, yes. But not a fat woman. And women are never fat. They are simply plus-sized and should be loved the same.”
    Libertarian: “Is it a public transporation train? Let the fucker crash into City Hall.”
    Republican: “Those people chose to get on the train, so they deserve their fate. Then again, that fat guy got himself fat and perched himself above the rails, so he deserves to get pushed. Wait, are any of them donors?”
    Democrat: “Oh, no, we musn’t let the passengers die! But we musn’t kill the fat man, either. How about, NO ONE dies? Wait, are any of them donors?”
    PETA member: “Clear any animals, insects, microbes, or pieces of dust blowing in the wind out of the way!”

    Any others?

  119. #119 |  Cynical in CA | 

    @ #113 | Elliot

    Thanks for picking up the slack, Elliot. Banging my head against the wall makes me tired. The plundered money fact trumps every other argument for me. That others don’t agree with that premise merely indicates their violent statist tendencies and/or brainwashing.

  120. #120 |  Cynical in CA | 

    @ #116 | Bill

    A libertarian doesn’t throw the fat man off the bridge because it’s wrong to kill for any reason, with very narrow exceptions for immediate self-defense. The respondent does not have to take action to solve problems not of his own making. Therefore, the five workers die, because as you noted, they understood there were risks in their choice of employment.

    It’s that simple, from a libertarian perspective. Not sure what that other speculation was on your part.

  121. #121 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Ah, my fan club is back ….

  122. #122 |  Cynical in CA | 

    #110 | Aaron — “Delta, there are people who refuse to believe that it’s possible for the government to ever contribute positively toward something.”

    There are people who believe that it’s impossible for the government to ever contribute positively toward something.

    There, fixed it for you. And guilty as charged, for all the perfectly valid and sound logical and moral arguments presented ad infinitum in these comments.

  123. #123 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Jacob Hornberger says it far better than I ever could. Read the first two op-eds.

    http://www.fff.org/blog/index.asp

  124. #124 |  Bill | 

    Cynical, thanks for clarifying my point. My main point was that if you were to frame the thing in terms of dollars and cents, a lot of people who CALL themselves libertarians would have probably seen it in “taxation is theft” terms, but because it was framed in this improbable story didn’t see how profoundly un-libertarian throwing some guy off a bridge would be. Maybe it’s because the story seems like such an abstraction, or maybe they never got the idea of the non-aggression principle as the foundation of libertarianism in the first place.

  125. #125 |  Windy | 

    Matt, the level of education “in the early 1900s” was well above the level of education today. Have you ever seen the test 8th graders had to pass (to graduate to high school) back then? Most college grads couldn’t pass it today. I said private schools would become affordable to almost everyone because without the taxes we now pay to fund public schools being stolen from people, they would have a couple to a few thousand more dollars in their pockets each year which they could then use to pay private school tuition for their children. I never suggested the cost of tuition might come down but now that you mention it, it just might with more students attending it might bring costs down, too.

  126. #126 |  Cynical in CA | 

    The federal student loan program has been demonstrated ad nauseum to inflate the cost of college educations while simultaneously diminishing the value in the marketplace of possessing one. That is just one example of how government interference in education inflates costs, and how the freed market would bring education into equilibrium with the lowest costs possible and the highest value possible.

  127. #127 |  albatross | 

    Windy:

    A smaller fraction of people went to school back then. If your local public school, with all its flaws and organizational dysfunctions, can send 50% of its students home after the 8th grade, they, too, will be able to demand a lot more from the high school kids.

  128. #128 |  albatross | 

    Cynical:

    There’s a pretty big difference between these two statements:

    a. Government can never contribute something positive to the world in some area.

    b. Government involvement in some area is likely to do more harm than good, on average.

    For example, there are books in the world that are full of lies, some lies that will lead people to screw themselves over. It would be possible (and surely has happened) for a government to ban those destructive books, and thereby make the world a better place. And yet, most of us don’t want the government in the book banning business. It’s not that we don’t think they would ban some books that really were bad influences on the world. It’s that we don’t trust anyone with the power to decide which books may and may not be read by adults–we expect that giving someone that power will lead to them banning a lot of good and useful but controversial books, silencing their political and social opponents, etc.

  129. #129 |  albatross | 

    In my experience (reading popularizations–maybe this is very different in, say, academic philosophy), essentially all attempts to make “scientific” statements about the basis of morality end up miraculously reaffirming the starting moral intuitions of the scientists involved. This is pretty-much the opposite of what we see with the sciences applied to nature–where trying to understand astronomy and biology rather notably leads you to have lots of angry people yelling at you for challenging their starting intuitions about the world.

  130. #130 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “For example, there are books in the world that are full of lies, some lies that will lead people to screw themselves over. It would be possible (and surely has happened) for a government to ban those destructive books, and thereby make the world a better place.”

    Your statement is true only if we agree on the premise. My premise is that government involvement, in the present system, is always negative and always results in the world becoming a worse place. It’s the broken window fallacy. Your banning of a book containing lies, while appearing on the surface to be a positive thing, is completely counteracted by the banning of the book, which is always a negative thing.

    Individuals must be free to fail, free to read whatever they can, and use their own mind and sense of morality to determine what is good and what is bad. The government stepping in to do that for them is, in my mind and the minds of other like-minded freedom-loving individuals, always and forever a negative.

    It’s OK, albatross, we can agree to disagree.

  131. #131 |  Elliot | 

    …we can agree to disagree.

    I never agreed to that!

  132. #132 |  The Riviera Times | 

    The Riviera Times…

    […]Morning Links | The Agitator[…]…

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