Unintentional Comedy

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Watch as this lefty comments thread struggles to reconcile everything they know about libertarianism with the possibility that a libertarian might—just might—have done something worthwhile.

They seem positively baffled.

Thanks to Anne Knox for the link.

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106 Responses to “Unintentional Comedy”

  1. #1 |  Abersouth | 

    It is funny. However, these people are the ones that we self-professing libertarians have to build bridges with. Our curse is to show ad naseum that we aren’t the boogyman. That is, if we intend to someday graduate from the minors and the attendant small wins for liberty.

  2. #2 |  BoscoH | 

    Comment 15 wins the thread award for willful ignorance:

    he’s one of the only libertarians I’ve ever seen who acknowledge the existence of systemic, pervasive racism in the US. he went to mississippi to report on the case, and he talked to the two black jurors–or at least tried to. one wouldn’t say anything, and the other explained she had been non too subtly threatened with loss of her gov’t job (come low-level administration in the county) if she voted to acquit. it was kind of hilarious, he came back from mississippi and was like “holy fuck there’s systemic racism in america for realz, guys,” and every single one of his commenters dissented sharply. most libertarians show a distinct lack of interest in questions like equality of opportunity, or every giving a fuck about poor people.

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    I don’t think those people are amenable to bridge-building. And I don’t really want to build bridges with anyone who will require constant assurance and proof that I’m not a selfish asshole, or racist, or that I don’t hate poor people. There are plenty of people on the left (and right) who don’t agree with libertarianism, but who do at least address libertarian arguments on the merits. They’re worth engaging. These people, like Balloon Juicers, are really only worth ridicule. But they’re definitely good for that.

  4. #4 |  Radley Balko | 

    it was kind of hilarious, he came back from mississippi and was like “holy fuck there’s systemic racism in america for realz, guys,” and every single one of his commenters dissented sharply.

    I saw that too. Ignorance all around. I grew up in a county where the Klan was still active. So the notion that I’d be surprised that there’s still racism in America is absurd. As for “every single one of his commenters dissented sharply”, the blog didn’t have comments at the time:

    http://www.theagitator.com/2006/03/page/3/

  5. #5 |  ravenshrike | 

    “Speaking of libertarianism, I visited a fireworks emporium today. It was very depressing. The concept of “discount fireworks” (2 for 1! 3 for 1!) worries me, as did the presence of extremely young children in the company of several shoppers pushing carts full of items boasting 500 grams of explosive, apparently the largest amount permitted.”

    Officially the most amusing comment in the thread. I can’t decide whether it is meant to be satire or if the commenter is serious. The reference to libertarianism is an utter non sequitur.

  6. #6 |  elcid1390 | 

    But if the comments had been on, we would have dissented. Sharply, no less.

  7. #7 |  Franklin Harris | 

    These people are even worse than the idiots who leave creationist comments on every science story featured on the Yahoo! home page. Just because they can spell they think they are morally superior.

  8. #8 |  Craig | 

    Abersouth, that is very nicely put.

    Radley, they are *definitely* open to bridge-building. And they are your natural allies because they often care about other people when their rights are trampled on.

    I am still on the left (in American terms) but am far more libertarian than I was 20 years ago. People do move, because libertarianism is something that you see happen (or happens to you).

    But of course if you’d rather look cool than win stuff, knock yourself out!

  9. #9 |  shecky | 

    Not surprising, though not as bad as I thought it would be. I think most folks still think in terms of left vs right. Libertarianism spans the spectrum in many ways. In recent times, it seems conservatives were more likely to append their self description as libertarian. And since there’s no test, all it takes is for the Glenn Becks of the world to declare themselves libertarian, as they occasionally do, to poison the well.

    Everyone is libertarian in some ways, but some are really not prepared for it. Some of the commenters are the type that crap their pants even when someone like Matt Yglesias does a post like, “WTF is with licensing hairbraiders?” All of a sudden, he’s in the pocket of the Koch brothers and is willing to have his grandmother die at the hand of a rogue hair salon. With this crowd, there isn’t much to be done.

  10. #10 |  Matt D | 

    If every libertarian took these issues as serious as you, the perception would be much different.

  11. #11 |  Matt D | 

    Which is to say, libertarians do a pretty bad job of talking about and dealing with race.

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    Sorry, I don’t feel much like building bridges with people who constantly and willfully misrepresent my humanity. That’s exactly what folks like this do: they use every fringe ass who ever claimed to have ‘libertarian thoughts’ and say “See? All libertarians are like this, and I’ll bet they even…” and then extend it far more, to things that are fundamentally in opposition to liberty.

  13. #13 |  abhisaha | 

    Radley, there’s no journalist I admire more than you. And I certainly understand — and often enough myself share — your sentiments as expressed in #3.

    But I am not convinced that none of those commenters can be won over. Some people do change. If we libertarians want the world to change for the better, and I know you do, perhaps we should make that extra effort more often, hard as it might be. I am reminded of the old saying from the Talmud: “A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy.”

  14. #14 |  parsimon | 

    These people, like Balloon Juicers, are really only worth ridicule.

    Visitor from unfogged here, not intending to start any fights. But Radley, this statement of yours really is overkill. The house rules at unfogged dictate that commenters speak for themselves and are solely and individually responsible for their comments; any given comment or set of like-minded comments should not be taken to stand for the whole.

    You’ll find plenty of reasoned dissent in that thread. Peace.

  15. #15 |  William | 

    I guess I’m one of those libertarians who does a bad job of talking about race. For me, the Cory Maye case was outrageous because a man was sentenced to death for defending himself against what appeared to be a group armed robbers. He’s black? Not relevant. Maye was justified because the police created a volatile situation where he legitimately thought his life and that of his daughter were in danger, not because he is a black man who was assaulted by white cops.

  16. #16 |  Radley Balko | 

    The house rules at unfogged dictate that commenters speak for themselves and are solely and individually responsible for their comments; any given comment or set of like-minded comments should not be taken to stand for the whole.

    I probably wasn’t clear enough, but I wasn’t referring to everyone at Unfogged, or even everyone in that comment thread. I was specifically referring to the commenters who were postulating my coverage of this case must have been in spite of my libertarianism, or had nothing to do with it, or that I must be a libertarian who “didn’t get the memo.”

    My personal politics had everything to do with how I found the story, recognized as an outrage, and was motivated to continue to follow it. The story was four years old when I found it. The A.P. and the NY Times had written about it (the latter on the front page). But until that point, no reporter questioned the police account of the raid, which was that Cory was just another black drug dealer who killed a cop. I found the story while researching the paper I wrote for Cato about police militarization. Coming at it from that angle, a position of skepticism of government, I think made all the difference.

  17. #17 |  Radley Balko | 

    Maye was justified because the police created a volatile situation where he legitimately thought his life and that of his daughter were in danger, not because he is a black man who was assaulted by white cops.

    William, while I agree that if Maye had been white he’d likely have ended up with the same sentence, there’s no question that race was a factor in this case, in a number of ways. That answering machine message from Randy Gentry was pretty incredible. This is a guy who was likely used in dozens (at least) of other drug investigations. On the other side, Ronda Cooper played the race card to get Maye’s family to hire her despite her lack of experience.

  18. #18 |  Robert | 

    This is what happens when your political movement is associated with under-read, self-important, poor-hating assholes.

  19. #19 |  parsimon | 

    I was specifically referring to the commenters who were postulating my coverage of this case must have been in spite of my libertarianism, or had nothing to do with it, or that I must be a libertarian who “didn’t get the memo.”

    I understand; and those remarks must surely have been infuriating. There’s a history behind them, for what it’s worth. (As a sidebar, the commenter who first referred to “getting the memo” is worth having a discussion with.)

    It is absolutely true that self-identified libertarians suffer from being put on the same page as the more egregious practitioners and outliers. I put every effort into not making that mistake, but it’s not always easy.

    As I said several times on the Unfogged thread, my hat is off to you. And if I’ve just now said something inadvertently insulting, I really didn’t mean to.

  20. #20 |  Highway | 

    William, I think that’s pretty much exactly it. A lot of libertarians do a bad job of talking about race because it doesn’t matter. Is someone being oppressed? Is someone having their rights violated? That’s what matters. What their skin color is doesn’t matter. Where they live doesn’t matter. Are there some places where more people get their rights violated? Yes there are.

    If someone else thinks it’s all about race, or poor, or rich, or corporate, or any adjective, then they don’t get it. It’s about people. The same rights for all people. And you don’t need special laws for Group A or Group B if you just consider everyone as people.

  21. #21 |  Ted S. | 

    I find Comment #63 particularly interesting, from the poster who more or less tells Radley, “How dare you defend yourself while we’re heaping calumnies upon you!”

  22. #22 |  anoNY | 

    “he’s one of the only libertarians I’ve ever seen who acknowledge the existence of systemic, pervasive racism in the US”

    Bwahahaha! This is the best one! This guy or gal never ever cracked a copy of Reason magazine. Fer christ sakes, they did a whole issue on prison stuff!

  23. #23 |  WWJGD | 

    I’ll jump in with William and Highway here. There seems to be a stark difference in language that points to a more deep split between left and libertarian thought.

    Most libertarians will look at a transgression and say “This is wrong, this man’s rights were violated.” whereas many leftists will say “This is wrong, this black/hispanic/gay/trans man’s rights were violated because he’s black/hispanic/gay/trans.” So much rhetoric is caught up in focusing on what group they belong to and how that group has been wronged rather than the individual. That’s why libertarians will examine the Cheye Calvo’s and the Maye’s and leftists only seem to look at the Maye’s. This creates the perception, however, that there is no discussion of racism, institutionalized or cultural, in libertarian circles. The elitist libertarian in me just wants to respond with “Racism has been clearly addressed and discredited in our ideological system” before I adjust my monocle.

  24. #24 |  Abersouth | 

    I’m reminded of this-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD0dmRJ0oWg

    I should add I wasn’t very clear in my first comment. Some people you can build bridges with, others aren’t so interested. I thought a few of the commenters there didn’t seem like they were beyond redemption. That’s all.

    I agree that I like engaging people who deal with merits of an argument, as opposed to dueling straw men.

  25. #25 |  steve | 

    I think the problem with finding common cause with these people isn’t that we don’t share some of the same goals. We do. The problem is that we don’t share the same solutions. I suspect their solution to this problem would be to give more power to national policing in an effort to reduce the power of the locals. There solutions always seems to amount to little more the give more power to the “right” people.

  26. #26 |  steve | 

    There solutions always seem to amount to little more then give more power to the “right” people.

    sorry about the spelling.

  27. #27 |  Bobby | 

    I have never really understood the lefts obsession with race, other than how lefty politicians pander to minorities to win elections. I agree with several previous comments, when I see someone’s rights being violated my first though has never been “omg that black guy is getting screwed.” I think this is probably true for a lot of libertarians. I mean, for a lot of us, race just does not matter. I think the left, because they thrive on racial identity almost always miss the forest for the trees. Or however that saying goes.

  28. #28 |  William | 

    Well, there are the things libertarians will tend to ignore, too. Someone over at Unfogged posted a link to a website ( http://supportcece.wordpress.com/ ) about CeCe McDonald, complaining that the case is only getting traction in the anarchist and similar communities. Ms. McDonald is a black, transgendered woman who is facing murder charges after she allegedly stabbed and killed someone who was attacking her because she is transgendered.

    Ms. McDonald may have acted acted in self-defense and used force proportionate to the threat she encountered. Maybe not. I don’t know and the site doesn’t make a compelling argument one way or another. It just talks about how she has been targeted by the system because she’s a transwoman. I don’t see how her rights have been violated. Insensitivity about gender classification and pronouns (likely due to lack of familiarity with transfolk) doesn’t count, though such insensitivity is unfortunate.

    There seems to be a legitimate question about whether or not she acted appropriately in self defense. That’s what a criminal trial is for and that is what she will get. Is this an obvious case of self defense that should have never been charged? I don’t know. Will I be outraged if she doesn’t receive a fair trial? Absolutely. But for now, I see nothing wrong.

  29. #29 |  BillC | 

    I’m a progressive liberal and this blog is among the top of the feeds in my newsreader. I find that the topics are vitally important and the views expressed here almost always match my own.

    This blog focuses on matters of personal freedom and does not often concern itself with libertarian economic philosophies. I would not come here and waste my time reading it if a significant number of entries focused on abolishing the Department of Education.

    That’s not to say that I disagree with all libertarian thoughts on economic issues and the balance between government and private responsibility. I believe that government waste is a problem and should be actively and continuously addressed, but I also believe that people should be able to get past their political philosophies and examine each issue on a basis of what works best and what is in the best interests of the country. Sometimes that might be less government, but sometimes it might be more. The belief that a single philosophy is some sort of golden rule that works in all cases is simplistic and naive.

    So, should I discount the writings of Radley Bradko and the views expressed by the commenters here because I know that they might actually think that a moron like Ayn Rand was a decent writer with a lot of good ideas? Should I assume the things written here have no value because the authors might also believe that the free market system is some sort of magical cure all for society’s ills? That if we just let education take care of itself we will be able to compete with other developed nations that make significant investments in the education of their citizens?

    I prefer to take heart in the fact that there is a group of conservatives in this country that, unlike mainstream republicans, aren’t wrong about everything all the time.

  30. #30 |  gersan | 

    Well, Mr. Balko, so you think “lefties” are a joke, right? Well, libertarians are a joke on both sides of the aisle. Example par excellence: Rand Paul.

    Seriously, though, libertarians would be taken more seriously if they opposed corporate malfeasance as much as they do government malfeasance.

  31. #31 |  Abersouth | 

    BillC, I would advise you to tackle issues on their merits. Go through arguments and actually tackle them. Don’t dismiss them out of hand.

    Case in point, I can’t agree with you when you say Ayn Rand is a moron. She had insight into certain aspects of society and capitalism and freedom. And if memory serves Radley thinks she’s creepy. But, how do you square your disdain of her with the millions of fans she has? She appeals to them for a reason. Do you think they are all morons?

  32. #32 |  Abersouth | 

    @gersan- Do you seriously want to prop up both sides of the aisle as a serious poster boy compared to Rand Paul? What’s congress approval rating lately? Yeah, something is broke and you aren’t in on the joke.

  33. #33 |  BillC | 

    “But, how do you square your disdain of her with the millions of fans she has? She appeals to them for a reason. Do you think they are all morons?”

    Millions of people love crap all the time. Do I really need to go through a list of examples from popular music, film and literature? I feel no need to square my disdain because I believe it is the natural order of things. If you like Ayn Rand it doesn’t mean you are a moron any more than if you listen to Linkin Park or enjoy schlock Vampire pics. It just means you don’t have very good taste and enjoy your entertainment without a lot of depth.

  34. #34 |  Radley Balko | 

    Well, Mr. Balko, so you think “lefties” are a joke, right?

    No.

    Example par excellence: Rand Paul.

    You mean the only member of the U.S. Senate to actively speak out against renewal of the PATRIOT Act?

  35. #35 |  parsimon | 

    Rand Paul has also declared, this past Sunday, that he intends to filibuster a debt-ceiling increase unless a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution is passed. I don’t think you want him in your camp.

  36. #36 |  BillC | 

    I think Rand Paul still doesn’t completely understand the rules and has a “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” concept of filibustering. As we’ve all learned over the last 3 years, it doesn’t really work that way.

  37. #37 |  Leo | 

    Pretty much everything leftists write is “unintentional comedy”.

  38. #38 |  parsimon | 

    You know, Rand Paul also said a few months ago that private business owners should be permitted to disallow black patrons if they felt like it.

    You’d have to tell me whether you’re okay with that, but generally speaking, I’d say he should be shunned.

    I’ll stop now.

  39. #39 |  Abersouth | 

    That’s a principle thing similar to neo-nazis should be allowed the freedom of speech. It’s called freedom of contract. I would bet you not a single commenter here would buy anything from a business that chose to exclude people on such a basis. They should be free to run their business anyway they see fit. The rest of us should be free to heap loads of scorn on them and buy from their competitors. Why should government get involved? Then it becomes this blunt tool that is used to swing at who you don’t like. And all these various categories of people hate different things and everyone uses government as a cudgel. No thanks.

  40. #40 |  Thomas D | 

    I believe that government waste is a problem and should be actively and continuously addressed, but I also believe that people should be able to get past their political philosophies and examine each issue on a basis of what works best and what is in the best interests of the country. Sometimes that might be less government, but sometimes it might be more. The belief that a single philosophy is some sort of golden rule that works in all cases is simplistic and naive.

    Weird that you’d assert that, since you espouse the “single philosophy” of pragmatism. Your statement is self-negating if not incoherent.

  41. #41 |  BillC | 

    “I would bet you not a single commenter here would buy anything from a business that chose to exclude people on such a basis.”

    I may not agree with the way Walmart treats its workers, particularly with the fact that they pay them so poorly that many need government assistance to survive, but they’ve got jeans for 20 bucks so that’s where I’m buying them. The idea that a significant number of people will let their political or moral views influence their spending is fantasy. At an individual level I do what’s best for me, knowing that any personal boycott affects no one but me.

    And that’s just one side of the story. Maybe I and others like me wouldn’t patronize a diner that refuses to serve blacks. But put that diner in many parts of the south, Ohio or western Pennsylvania and I bet it would be one of the most popular places in town.

  42. #42 |  JS | 

    Abersouth “They should be free to run their business anyway they see fit. The rest of us should be free to heap loads of scorn on them and buy from their competitors. Why should government get involved?”

    Well said!

  43. #43 |  Thomas D | 

    You know, Rand Paul also said a few months ago that private business owners should be permitted to disallow black patrons if they felt like it.

    You’d have to tell me whether you’re okay with that, but generally speaking, I’d say he should be shunned.

    See, this is precisely the sort of thing that makes some of us roll our eyes at the notion of building bridges. Your concept of “justice” is fundamentally different from ours. It’s an impassable disconnect.

    We do not think people should be forced by government’s guns to do stuff. You think they should. You want to use force on other human beings; we don’t. There’s no happy-smiley middle ground there. There are no “bridges” to be built.

  44. #44 |  BillC | 

    “Weird that you’d assert that, since you espouse the “single philosophy” of pragmatism. Your statement is self-negating if not incoherent.”

    Thanks for that! I was unaware that the belief that a course of action should be chosen based on the best end result was a philosophy in itself. I guess I’m not a liberal libertarian or a libertarian liberal, I’m a pragmatist!

    And I guess this is why I have a problem with both libertarians and progressives: their failure to acknowledge that their philosophies are not a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem and their persistent adherence to those philosophies even when it is obvious to any objective person that they are not the best course of action in a specific case.

    I guess that’s what’s most libertarian politicians need: a little infusion of pragmatism. Then when a cable news talking head attempts to negate every one of their points by making them look completely insane to 70% of the country’s population, they can say something like, “No, I do not believe that business owners should be able to deny service to blacks.”

  45. #45 |  Thomas D | 

    And I guess this is why I have a problem with both libertarians and progressives: their failure to acknowledge that their philosophies are not a one-size-fits-all solution to every problem and their persistent adherence to those philosophies even when it is obvious to any objective person that they are not the best course of action in a specific case.

    You’re engaged in one big question-begging exercise when you emphasize this whole “solution to every problem” thing. That’s the whole point: Not everyone views the world through the prism of “problems” necessitating “courses of action.” Some view through the prism of individual sovereignty and liberty, and regard those as moral imperatives that sit above all else.

  46. #46 |  Matt D | 

    A lot of libertarians do a bad job of talking about race because it doesn’t matter. Is someone being oppressed? Is someone having their rights violated? That’s what matters. What their skin color is doesn’t matter. Where they live doesn’t matter. Are there some places where more people get their rights violated? Yes there are.

    So, you’re not interested in why a person’s rights are being violated? You’re not interested in whether there are likely to be other, unreported incidents, or what systemic factors may be at work?

  47. #47 |  Thomas D | 

    So, you’re not interested in why a person’s rights are being violated? You’re not interested in whether there are likely to be other, unreported incidents, or what systemic factors may be at work?

    If one’s goal is to eliminate/downscale the entity that violates rights — big, intrusive government — then factors such as race become mostly incidental. It’s not that we “don’t care about race,” per se. It’s that it becomes tangential, even superfluous, to our actual aim.

    Leftists have to remain vigilant about the role of race because they seek to preserve big government. Thus they have to dig in and ensure that big government isn’t being racist or sexist. Libertarians just want to ensure that big government isn’t being, at all.

  48. #48 |  BillC | 

    [i]“You’re engaged in one big question-begging exercise when you emphasize this whole “solution to every problem” thing. That’s the whole point: Not everyone views the world through the prism of “problems” necessitating “courses of action.” Some view through the prism of individual sovereignty and liberty, and regard those as moral imperatives that sit above all else.”[/i]

    I think if your prism allows the steady decline of the quality of life in the United States and the unnecessary suffering of its people then it needs to be adjusted.

    I think if your prism causes all of your ideas to be thrown out because a small minority of your opinions not only make you the villains of the opposition party but laughingstocks in the party on your side of the aisle then it’s time to start thinking about throwing that prism away.

    Libertarians: “The baby and the bathwater are one and the same. They can not be separated. I really love that baby, but I will not allow the bathwater to be thrown out to let it live. You”ll have to toss them both.”

  49. #49 |  Radley Balko | 

    BillC:

    Who is the party on my “side of the aisle”?

    I think if your prism allows the steady decline of the quality of life in the United States and the unnecessary suffering of its people . . .

    What a completely objective, non-judgmental, undebatable assumption!

    You’re talking about the federal welfare program that began under Johnson, right? Or are you talking about the drug war?

  50. #50 |  abhisaha | 

    Libertarians tend to believe that the right of association is absolute, or at any rate sufficiently important so as to make any law prohibiting private discrimination unjust. Liberals, it seems to me, do not place the same emphasis on an abstract right of association; thus they are comfortable with putting restrictions on private businesses to remove or at least reduce acts of overt discrimination. Thomas D is right: at one level this is an impassable disconnect. We have different notions of justice and rights. We have different models of costs and benefits and intrinsic values.

    Yet, perhaps it is better to ignore these differences in basic axioms and focus instead on the similarities in some of our preferred policy outcomes. We will perhaps never agree on anti-discrimination law but maybe we can work on ending the drug war, and combating police misconduct, and reducing defense spending. And in the process maybe we will even change some liberal minds on issues where the difference of positions is not that great (e.g. the First Amendment and what, if any, exceptions to it should exist).

  51. #51 |  BillC | 

    Sometimes I tell my friends and family, “Libertarians actually have a lot of good ideas. It’s silly to discount all of their opinions and philosophies because a few of the things they believe are a little crazy. You don’t agree with every part of the Democratic or Republican platform do you?”

    It’s funny to think that if there was a “real” libertarian there he would step in and say, “woah there fella, with us it’s all or nothing. See, we’re working with a prism here and everything must be seen through that prism. Even though in my more more lucid moments I can acknowledge that trumpeting the rights of business owners to refuse service to blacks is political suicide in much of the country, our prism does not allow the intrusion of rational to moderate the philosophies.”

  52. #52 |  Radley Balko | 

    Rand Paul has also declared, this past Sunday, that he intends to filibuster a debt-ceiling increase unless a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution is passed. I don’t think you want him in your camp.

    That sounds like an excellent example of why I do want him in my camp.

    I’m less enthralled with his positions on immigration, Gitmo, and a few other issues.

  53. #53 |  Highway | 

    Matt D, sure I’d be interested in why a person’s rights are being violated, because you need to find out what the cause is to stop it. But that doesn’t mean that someone’s rights have anything to do with their *adjective*. If a cop or a judge is violating someone’s rights because they are black, and they’re violating other people’s rights because they’re asian, then what good is it to say “Hey, you shouldn’t violate black people’s rights!”? Why isn’t a law that says “Don’t violate *any person’s* rights” covering everyone?

    And I’m with Thomas D and Abersouth above: individuals cannot violate other individual’s rights by not serving them. If a business doesn’t want to serve someone, they’re not violating any right that person has. You have no right to demand service from me, from Joe down the street, or from General Electric. If someone is ‘violating rights’ by, say, imprisonment, isn’t that covered already? Or by killing them? That’s covered already.

    There is a fundamental difference in what is called a right. People who believe in negative rights cannot agree with those who believe in positive rights. Yet positive rights *always* put an onus on someone who is not otherwise involved. I think this is frequently handwaved away by using pronouns: Somebody, We, Them, They, Anybody. But ultimately it comes down to people, to individuals. If ‘somebody’ has to do something, then at some point, an individual will be forced to do it. It should matter whether they want to or not.

  54. #54 |  BillC | 

    “Who is the party on my “side of the aisle”?

    The republicans. You are a conservative right? The republicans are the conservative party in this country. Ron and Rand Paul, libertarian politicians, run as republicans.

    Instead of referring to the republicans as your party or the party of the majority of the posters here, I used the phrase “side of the aisle” in order to convey my meaning without sticking any of you with a label that you might not want. I feel it is accurate and it avoids labeling that some of you might object to. For you to point it out and object is trifling. Are you implying that you feel the democratic party is the party on the libertarian side of the aisle now Radley? No? Then why do you bring it up?

  55. #55 |  JOR | 

    “I was unaware that the belief that a course of action should be chosen based on the best end result was a philosophy in itself.”

    It’s not a whole philosophy in itself, but it’s certainly part of a particular philosophical worldview, and one built at least as much on naivety* as any sort of idealistic “utopianism”.

    *See especially the comment by Quee Nelson.

    “If one’s goal is to eliminate/downscale the entity that violates rights — big, intrusive government — then factors such as race become mostly incidental.”

    I see no reason to think this. People have been violating each others’ rights in the most dehumanizing and horrific ways since before there was any such thing as “big government”, and they have continued to do so for many thousands of years through various sorts of political and social arrangements. For everything that’s seriously wrong with them (and I certainly don’t give a ratfucking fuck about building bridges with gliberals or communists or D-party hacks or good-government technocrats or most any other species of leftist) leftists of various shades are right to concern themselves with racism even aside from government oppression or violence. And even in the context of government oppression and violence, it’s foolish to think you can just get the government to stop doing stuff without undermining the cultural causes (e.g. government enabled and helped enforce American black slavery and Jim Crow because of rampant racism; undermining slavery and Jim Crow necessarily involved confronting that racism).

  56. #56 |  abhisaha | 

    BillC, I can’t speak for Radley, but perhaps you may like to check out how the folks at Reason magazine voted in the last presidential election. It may change some of the assumptions you take for granted.

    http://reason.com/archives/2008/10/29/whos-getting-your-vote

  57. #57 |  JOR | 

    “The republicans. You are a conservative right?”

    Lol. Just lol.

  58. #58 |  BillC | 

    “What a completely objective, non-judgmental, undebatable assumption!

    You’re talking about the federal welfare program that began under Johnson, right? Or are you talking about the drug war?”

    I either did not express my thoughts clearly enough or you misunderstood my intention. I am not accusing any one party of anything there. The discussion was differences between the basis for pragmatism vs. one posters view of the basis of libertarianism. My point is that libertarianism, as it was defined by Thomas D in his previous post, would not allow one to consider any adverse results of the policies that originate from libertarian philosophy or allow them to alter course against the tenets of the philosophy in order to obtain a better result. He describes a philosophy where the “moral imperatives” of “individual sovereignty and liberty” guide all decision making. My point is not that his philosophy would lead to economic decline and human suffering, but that religious adherence to a philosophy would not allow for adjustments if it resulted in a bad outcome.

  59. #59 |  Mister DNA | 

    Instead of referring to the republicans as your party or the party of the majority of the posters here, I used the phrase “side of the aisle” in order to convey my meaning without sticking any of you with a label that you might not want. I feel it is accurate and it avoids labeling that some of you might object to. For you to point it out and object is trifling. Are you implying that you feel the democratic party is the party on the libertarian side of the aisle now Radley? No? Then why do you bring it up?

    In other words, “how dare you point out my straw man argument!”

    It’s not Radley’s fault that you can’t see beyond the TEAM RED/TEAM BLUE dichotomy.

    Sure there are two Republicans with strong libertarian tendencies currently in the House of Representatives and the Senate. That makes the Republican party “my side of the aisle” as much as having a salad on the menu makes McDonald’s a vegetarian restaurant.

    If you don’t want people objecting to your (mis)characterizations, don’t make them in the first place.

    And don’t whine about it when your mis-characterizations are acknowledged.

  60. #60 |  BillC | 

    “Lol. Just lol.”

    Oh yes, associating libertarians with republicans is certainly laughable.

    Look, if libertarians don’t want to be associated with the party they almost invariably represent when they run for public office, how about they stop going to their conventions?

  61. #61 |  Radley Balko | 

    You are a conservative right?

    BillC: I think it’s probably time for you to stop commenting now. Or at least come up with a new handle.

    And if you do come up with a new handle, I’d suggest you read the site for a few weeks before commenting, lest you again make yourself look really foolish.

  62. #62 |  parsimon | 

    52: That sounds like an excellent example of why I do want him in my camp.

    If this means that you’re in favor of a federal balanced budget amendment, I must say I’m surprised.

    But okay; this thread has been educational for me. Thanks for replying.

  63. #63 |  CyniCAl | 

    #54 | BillC — “The republicans are the conservative party in this country.”

    There hasn’t been a conservative party in America since the early 20th Century, if there ever truly was. Perhaps the Anti-Federalists were conservatives.

    Republicans are liberal-light. They’re all in favor of unlimited government. A distinction without a difference. Two wings of the same bird of prey. Statists to the core.

  64. #64 |  JOR | 

    For what it’s worth, it’s certainly fair to associate some self-described libertarians, and some libertarian-sounding people, with Republicans. But the sorts of libertarians it’s fair to associate with Republicans generally don’t object to said association, and even self-identify as Republicans or as conservatives or as being “right-wing” (I note in passing that traditional “true” conservatism is not doctrinaire or principled, but rather based on moral skepticism, naive pragmatism, and more or less explicit tribalism – pretty much the opposite of the common characterization of libertarians as hopeless idealists or utopians*). So if you associate a libertarian with Republicans, and said libertarian objects, you can be pretty sure that said association is unfair.

    *And also pretty far off from both neoconservatism and the self-professed “true conservatives” who mistakenly believe that the True Heart of Traditional Conservatism is really religious fundamentalism, or populism, or a love of liberty (however defined), or skepticism of government (again, however defined), or “traditional values”, or some combination of these. This sort of thing provides a good reason to simply grant that people are whatever they self-identify as, and have their own reasons for doing so, so as to get past the labels and talk about ideas on their own merits.

  65. #65 |  JOR | 

    “There hasn’t been a conservative party in America since the early 20th Century… They’re all in favor of unlimited government…”

    You’re implying that there’s something un-conservative about favoring unlimited government. There’s no reason to believe anything of the sort. The paradigm cases of “true” conservatism, figures like Burke, Kirk, Collingwood, and Oakeshott, were statists. They weren’t even minimal-statists.

  66. #66 |  JOR | 

    I would also deny that Republicans are “liberal-lite”, if that’s meant to imply that they’re more libertarian (or rather, less unlibertarian) than Democrats. If it seems that way, it’s only because Team Blue is in charge. For the moment.

  67. #67 |  Matt D | 

    And even in the context of government oppression and violence, it’s foolish to think you can just get the government to stop doing stuff without undermining the cultural causes (e.g. government enabled and helped enforce American black slavery and Jim Crow because of rampant racism; undermining slavery and Jim Crow necessarily involved confronting that racism).

    I was going to make a similar point, which is that despite the claim that ‘negative rights’ impose no burdens on others, it’s clear that pervasive private bigotry can and does spill over into public policy.

  68. #68 |  Abersouth | 

    Radley, I just read your comment in the blog which is the subject for this thread (along with all the rest). I didn’t intend to start a big discussion with my first comment and bridging over here but I did enjoy reading the commentary and blowback over there.

    Now I’m done and I’m going to go celebrate my alleged freedom.

  69. #69 |  Abersouth | 

    P.S. I just want to point out that Radleys comment on the other thread is implicitly affirming my original comments desire to attempt to bridge our differences. No matter what anyone says I shall always consider myself the winner of this thread. Just saying.

    Happy fourth.

  70. #70 |  steve | 

    I think the standard response to #38 parsimon is should a black business owner be able to refuse to serve KKK members. If his answer is no then at least he is being consistent, if his answer is yes then he doesn’t believe in equal protection before the law.

  71. #71 |  JOR | 

    If ‘building bridges’ just means talking to them in good faith, then some leftists are worth it, sure (though usually not the Team Blue types; D-party apologists, good-government goo-goos, and liberal technocrats are all usually a waste of time, at best). If it means giving up my beliefs and accepting theirs, to some degree or another, well, if I thought leftist beliefs were correct I imagine I’d already be a leftist. If it means going along with their efforts to elect assholes who will (shockingly!) go on to do the same old asshole things, then no thanks.

    And sure, leftists (even the sorts of leftists I deride above) can eventually grow more open to libertarianism, but they don’t need libertarians to suck up to them to make that possible; in the big picture that probably doesn’t even help. People observe, reflect, and change – consciously and unconsciously. Often times they come to believe things (for better or worse) they once found terribly offensive.

  72. #72 |  parsimon | 

    70: should a black business owner be able to refuse to serve KKK members.

    Good question on the face of it, but it actually rests on a false equivalence. The business owner who refuses to serve blacks is doing so on the basis of the color of their skin and nothing more; the owner who hypothetically refuses to serve KKK members is doing so on the basis of their bigoted and destructive beliefs. These are two very different animals.

    I don’t say that there’s not some instructive thinking to do along these lines (in fact a lot of people have been doing it for some time); but there’s not at all a straightforward conclusion to be drawn that all business owners should be able to exclude any and all people as they wish. The motivation for the exclusion is important.

  73. #73 |  Bobby | 

    Parsimon, why should the state force a business to accept clientele the business does not want? In response to your last answer, I don’t know where you are from but I have lived in the south my entire life and there are plenty of businesses that openly discriminate against white people. They do this on the basis of the color of their skin and nothing more. The difference between you and I is that I recognize they are a private business and can exclude whoever they want from the premises, I am free to shop elsewhere.

  74. #74 |  Enyap | 

    Ok, i’m really curious as to how parsimon got this bizarre idea that a balanced budget amendments is something libertarians should disown Rand Paul over.

  75. #75 |  steve | 

    @72 K just change it to some other bigoted and destructive belief.

    Should a female business owner be allowed to refuse service to christians picketing the abortion clinic across the street.

    Should a palestinian business owner be allowed to refuse service to Isrealis here on vacation.

    Should a latino business owner be allowed to refuse service to latino gang members.

    Should a white business owner be allowed to refuse service to latino gang members.

    Should a progressive business owner be allowed to refuse service to climate deniers from the convention across the street.

    I apologize if I am interpreting your post wrong. But, I think you are saying that in each of these cases you are ok with the exclusions because of the destructive beliefs. I will go farther at the risk of being wrong and surmise that you believe those cases protected from bigotry are (race, sex, and sexual orientation). I am not attempting to critize just define where our differences are.

    Assuming I stated your position correctly, I only have two questions. Does it matter if the whats being descriminated against isn’t widely held to be destructive.

    Say some wierd business man has some sort of numerology fixation and simply refuses to service every 1012th customer. Is that a problem?

    Finally, what if its not a business but a private drinking club. Do the same rules apply?

  76. #76 |  Abersouth | 

    Should a wrongly imprisoned man working at dunkin donuts because he can get no other work be be allowed to refuse service to his arresting officer?

  77. #77 |  Windy | 

    @ #8 “because libertarianism is something that you see happen (or happens to you).”

    Not always, some of us were born that way. If my parents were still alive to ask, they’d tell you I was born that way I was questioning authority before I could talk and I never quit. I was also the one in my class who always supported and stood up for the underdog, railed against unreasonable restrictions on my and other’s freedoms, and encouraged others to stand up for their rights.

  78. #78 |  Awktalk | 

    RB: “These people, like Balloon Juicers, are really only worth ridicule. But they’re definitely good for that.”

    You know, Radley, I don’t really understand your beef with Cole. He is 100% with you on 50% of the issues (the other 50% being the abolish-the-fed-gold-standard-eliminate-DoE-stuff), and has praised your work for years. Digby too has nothing but admiration and praise for your work when it comes to civil libertarian issues: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/speaking-of-civil-liberties-bravo-to.html

    Why do you have such outright hostility towards them? Cole and “Balloon Juicers” don’t disagree with, or malign, your work towards the afflicted who have no recourse against an out of control State power apparatus. You share the same values. So why take cheap shots against them during your moments of glory? And make no mistake, I can’t understate the amazing difference you have made when it comes to Cory. This one case alone is a life’s worth of work. I had tears running from my eyes as I pressed the PayPal button to help him get on his feet. But please, don’t alienate your natural allies. It is tough enough to come by such allies, and Cole rarely if ever singles you out. Reason? Yes, often. The Koch Bros? Almost daily. But he praises your work. As do many of us who fall on the Libertarian side of many issues. Don’t alienate us. I want to read you. I like reading you. I have the utmost respect and admiration for you on civil lib issues, and I think the Cory Maye story, and the role you played, is one of the most important in our era. But don’t ruin it by hating on Cole. He’s one of you.

  79. #79 |  Windy | 

    BillC, we libertarians have no side of the aisle, the Republicans do NOT share our values any more than the Democrats do. Tho the Republicans give some of our values lip service when they are campaigning, they legislate differently, same is true of some of the Democrats — they give certain libertarian issues a bit of lip service but never carry thru legislatively. (Ron Paul is damn near the ONLY one in congress who consistently votes according to his Constitutionalist and libertarian principles, I’m hoping his son will follow in his footsteps.)
    So, no, no side of the aisle for us, we are the ones most ignored by every other political party and most “journalists” in mainstream media, and completely unrepresented in the federal (and State) government (with the sole exception of the Pauls in congress).

  80. #80 |  Windy | 

    Parsimon, the forcing of all businesses to serve all people, regardless of the reason why an owner may want to exclude some people led to the government forcing all businesses to forbid smoking of tobacco on their premises. Both of these actions by government were literally a “taking”. The government transferred control from the business owner to the government. The government decided the government controls the businesses, not the person who bought or rented the space and built his/her business over years of hard work. The slippery slope in action. For me the main problem was the “forcing”, we libertarians do not believe in “forcing” anyone to do anything, we consider it an act of aggression.

  81. #81 |  yonemoto | 

    Here is my general beef with liberalism. The liberals say the one part where they dissent with us is because we don’t care about poor people! Well goddamn. I’ll never, ever build a bridge with a liberal that accuses me of being a classist (especially when I do things like volunteer my time to help feed the less fortunate) whose economic policy, out of ignorance, is one that implicitly (or explicitly) supports inflationary policy – which does nothing but screw poor people.

  82. #82 |  yonemoto | 

    Also here is my beef with civil rights laws:

    Back in the 80s, there was a lot of anti-japanese sentiment. In detroit they were bashing in jap cars, and what not. My parents and I went to a diner, in the DC area and we were not served. And you know what? No goddamn civil rights act protected us.

    If you’re curious, it’s Bob and Edith’s, in Arlington. I’m sure they’re less racist now, but I still refuse to go there.

  83. #83 |  Radley Balko | 

    Why do you have such outright hostility towards them? . . . . But don’t ruin it by hating on Cole. He’s one of you.

    I have a hard time believing the “he’s one of you” line from a guy who regularly writes that the underlying values and principles of the political philosophy that motivates my work are racism, selfishness, and hatred of poor people.

    I may disagree with them, but absent evidence to the contrary, I assume most liberals are motivated by a genuine desire to make the world a better place. If a liberal can’t afford me and other libertarians that same basic level of respect, I don’t feel any obligation to take them seriously.

    Cole regularly and viciously attacks the integrity of my friends and former colleagues. And he does so in posts that are riddled with factual errors that would be easily disproven if he’d take the time to do a Google search. He lobs these accusations with little evidence other than his own prejudices, accusations that I know for a fact aren’t true. I’ve sent him links showing him where some of the accusations he makes are factually wrong. He doesn’t care.

    Sorry, but I’m not the sort of person to let all of that slide so he’ll keep occasionally keep writing nice things about me.

    I’m more than happy to engage with intellectually honest people with whom I disagree.

  84. #84 |  Kristen | 

    I don’t understand why it’s so hard for liberals and conservative sto understand what a libertarian actually is. The only people in this thread who are generally characterizing libertarians correctly are libertarians. It’s a very simple philosophy based in political principle. It’s an idealistic political philosophy. I guess that’s impossible for political pragmatists to understand.

  85. #85 |  Cyto | 

    He lobs these accusations with little evidence other than his own prejudices, accusations that I know for a fact aren’t true. I’ve sent him links showing him where some of the accusations he makes are factually wrong. He doesn’t care.

    But that can’t be true, because progressives are solely rational actors and fact-based. It isn’t their fault that reality has a liberal bias…

    Ok, removing tongue from cheek, there were several commenters who expressed that sentiment — that objective reality proves that the left is right and everyone else is in league with the devil.

    “Well, as others have noted here, the Comments section of Reason Online is a real sewer.”

    “I think it is true that most libertarians don’t feel much connection with black people and hence are not all that outraged about injustices that they suffer.”

    “It’s because those supposed “libertarian buttons” are, from most claimants, just nonexistent. The rhetoric about “jackbooted thugs” is meant to allow white males to evade the IRS and engage in guilt-free sympathizing with the militia movement, not to allow black males to defend themselves from white cops. It mostly functions — and is designed to function — as a very elaborate version of the dog-whistle politics of “small government” in conservatism as a whole, which has never actually been about the size of government.”

    But there is this:

    Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 4-11 2:00 PM

    113
    Huh, go away for the weekend and come back to having started a blogwar. For the record, I think it’s very clear that Balko’s politics motivated what he did to publicize Maye’s case, so if we’re going to be crediting ideologies with stuff, libertarianism gets this one.

    And I think this was kind of a tacky thread to go all “Sure, but fundamentally, libertarians really do suck” in.

    OTOH, as an ideology distinguishable from liberalism with a civil liberties focus, libertarianism never made much sense to me either

    But just as I was starting to think there was a good egg out their in lefty-land, he goes and says this:

    Speaking of libertarianism, I visited a fireworks emporium today. It was very depressing. The concept of “discount fireworks” (2 for 1! 3 for 1!) worries me, as did the presence of extremely young children in the company of several shoppers pushing carts full of items boasting 500 grams of explosive, apparently the largest amount permitted.

    And the full-gorilla nanny-stater is back. Dang. I wonder how he’d feel if I took my kids with me on a shopping trip to pick up cutlery.

    {Monty Python Voice} Or point-ed sticks….

  86. #86 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    I wonder how he’d feel if I took my kids with me on a shopping trip to pick up cutlery.

    I went to a gun show this weekend to pick up a shotgun, and I saw a baby with a very nice over-and-under tucked beside him in his stroller for safe-keeping. I think parsimon’s head would have exploded!

    (Mental Note: Don’t try taking candy from that particular baby . . . )

  87. #87 |  Cyto | 

    On the “why do they hate libertarians so much” front, I’ve been meaning to share this comment.

    Following Balko over to HuffPo led me to tweak a few Koch conspiracy theorists on this thread with Koch donations and support to what should be left-friendly causes, particularly the ACLU. The response went somewhere I could never have imagined on my own:

    Just to clarify, regardless of what you may think, the ACLU is not actually a ‘liberal’ group. It’s actually a bulwark of what ‘conservat­ism’ used to mean. They support the Constituti­on and especially the Bill of Rights even when it’s unpopular. That can mean the right of the KKK to march as well as the right of blacks to vote.

    so… the Kochtopus only supports the ACLU because they are a bunch of conservative racists who support the KKK. Nicely done!

  88. #88 |  Mark Draughn | 

    “I have a hard time believing the “he’s one of you” line from a guy who regularly writes that the underlying values and principles of the political philosophy that motivates my work are racism, selfishness, and hatred of poor people.”

    Radley, we all labor under the burden of having Ayn Rand identified with our movement.

  89. #89 |  JOR | 

    To be fair to Rand, for all that was deeply wrong with her philosophy it wasn’t really motivated by racism or hatred of poor people. For all the Objectivist whining about how people attack straw-men or Rand’s personality instead of her actual ideas even when people are attacking her actual ideas, they have a point about many if not most critics (but then that’s true of many if not most critics of most anything).

  90. #90 |  yonemoto | 

    JOR: Honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen a liberal attack Rand herself for hating poor people.

  91. #91 |  parsimon | 

    Cyto at 85:

    You’re misattributing those quoted comments to me. I had posted the comments above the ones you quote. Unfogged threads show the commenter’s name at the *bottom* of the comment. So comment 113 quoted above, for example, was posted by LizardBreath.

    Hope that makes sense.

  92. #92 |  albatross | 

    One sideline comment: I’ve noticed a tendency for a certain subset of Republicans to label themselves as “libertarian,” when they mostly mean something like “Republican who isn’t a member of the religious right.”

  93. #93 |  Mattocracy | 

    The problem with intellectual honesty from either liberals or convservatives is that most of them only see a black and white world. If you aren’t one of them, then you obviously believe in the opposite of them. End of discussion. They will never ever believe anything to the contrary and will either think you’re a liar, tell you your beliefs aren’t enough to sway their opinion, or dismiss it as inconsequential.

  94. #94 |  NL_ | 

    I think the somewhat non-obvious issue here is that to a left-progressive type, Cory Maye’s case is about racism. To a conservative type, it’s about guns and self-defense. To a libertarian type, it’s about both of those issues, but it’s also about the drug war and militarization of local police.

    The bulk of left-progressives see this case and are surprised by a libertarian helping a black man get out of prison. If instead they looked at the issue as one of a homeowner using a gun to defend his home and his family from wrongful invasion by police, it’d sound a lot more typical of a libertarian.

  95. #95 |  Zeb | 

    Where do people get their ideas of what libertarian means? It is really not very difficult to understand. Is the problem more that people just don’t bother finding out what it really means, or that people just can’t believe that some people actually have principles?

    Libertarianism is, unlike modern American liberalism or conservatism, an inherently anti-racist political philosophy. When you believe in individual autonomy and rights, racism is not even a sensible personal belief, let alone acceptable government policy.

  96. #96 |  Doctor Slack | 

    “Where do people get their ideas of what libertarian means? ”

    Actual libertarian behavior. Persistently stupid, blinkered and inane libertarian commentary like much of what appears on this thread. The funhouse-mirror view of American society that many libertarians seem to have. When largely unchecked corporate power is a big part of your country’s problems, and you’re part of a movement with a large percentage of people who simply can’t and won’t admit that, you’re going to have credibility issues. Deal.

    I’ll say it plainly: I think a very large part of libertarianism is simply stupid, most of the parts of it that aren’t are basically just liberalism, and though a great many libertarians squall about the “Republicans who smoke pot” stereotype, the shoe fits in more cases than not. Try as you might to No-True-Scotsman the Tea Party or the Koch Brothers’ or Alan Greenspan’s connections to libertarianism out of existence, it is not possible to do so.

    I have respect for Balko’s work and writing because it frequently departs from those patterns. I’m far from “baffled” about how a libertarian does something good. That’s how.

  97. #97 |  Doctor Slack | 

    (Having said all that, I was somewhat niggardly in my praise of Balko’s achievement on the Mayes case at the Unfogged thread. Let me rectify that here: I think what Balko has done on that case is amazing, and a damned sight more than most of us gadflies on the Internet have managed to achieve. For that I have absolute respect and admiration.)

  98. #98 |  Doctor Slack | 

    Oh, and Cyto, this quote you misattributed to parsimon was from me, by the way:

    “It’s because those supposed “libertarian buttons” are, from most claimants, just nonexistent. The rhetoric about “jackbooted thugs” is meant to allow white males to evade the IRS and engage in guilt-free sympathizing with the militia movement, not to allow black males to defend themselves from white cops. It mostly functions — and is designed to function — as a very elaborate version of the dog-whistle politics of “small government” in conservatism as a whole, which has never actually been about the size of government.”

    Which I stand by as simply true, for the good reason that I’ve been observing libertarianism in a variety of both online and offline settings since the mid-Nineties and have seen ample evidence to demonstrate it. Now, you can object to that as a description of majority libertarianism if you want — I’d think you were wrong — but since that quote says nothing at all about “the left” or “everyone else,” your attempt at characterization of it is precisely an example of the kind of inanity I mentioned in my first post.

  99. #99 |  glasnost | 

    That sounds like an excellent example of why I do want him in my camp.

    Of course, passing a balanced budget amendment would entail immediate and very large spending cuts, and place drastic limits on all further spending, forever.

    How would funding, for, say, public defenders and keeping poor people from being screwed by the justice system fare in this environment of zerogrowth or sharp decline in government spending? How would the Republican Party, which is basically running the country right now for appropriations, prioritize that?

    I know you’re not Republicans, but you’re part of their sea of pro-balanced budget in which they swim.

    I guess keeping your tax burden low makes it all worth it, though. Or maybe there’s some other important reason I’m missing out on.

    Your economic priorities stand in sharp contrast to the purpose of your criminal justice work.

  100. #100 |  PeeDub | 

    Ahh, gliberals …

  101. #101 |  MikeinAppalachia | 

    glasnost-
    You say that a balanced budget amendment would entail “…drastic limits on all future spending, forever(sic).” As if such is a bad thing.
    That implies that you believe that the government can continue to incur deficits, “forever”? How does that work, exactly?

  102. #102 |  MikeinAppalachia | 

    BillC-
    You are totally wrong about how at least 99.9% of Ohio and Western Pa (I don’t know about areas of the south) would react to an establishment that would ban or refuse customers on a racial basis. And your believing such makes you as much a bigot as those you slander.

  103. #103 |  Doctor Slack | 

    102: I don’t know about Ohio or Western Pa, but BillC’s general point is perfectly valid. Good test case: Denny’s. It’s a chain with outlets throughout North America a notorious reputation for racist policies, racist staff and refusal of service or selective provision of poor service to blacks, including the infamous (but far from isolated) ’96 case in which a Denny’s in Anapolis refused to serve black Secret Service agents. This behavior persisted even after it settled a brace of class-action lawsuits and supposedly instituted “racial sensitivity” training. In fact it persists to this day. Did people stop going to Denny’s? Did it go under as a result? No.

  104. #104 |  parsimon | 

    It seems clear from this thread that people here have a different conception of rights from that held by many left-liberals, to put it very simply. Roughly, there’s a distinction drawn between freedom to, and freedom from, and the former takes precedence.

    abhisaha upthread at 50, for example, says:

    Libertarians tend to believe that the right of association is absolute, or at any rate sufficiently important so as to make any law prohibiting private discrimination unjust.

    The right of association strikes me as a subcategory of a right to private, and unconstrained, behavior in general.

    I’m curious, then, how people here — libertarians in general, or libertarians here, since I don’t know if people here consider themselves representative or a subset — feel about environmental protection laws. As you know, some politicians are calling for the abolition or radical curtailment of the EPA; sometimes they say it’s because it’s too expensive, but mostly they say it’s because environmental regulations infringe on the rights of private entities.

    If freedom-to trumps freedom-from, I would think some libertarians (all? I really don’t know) are on board with this line of thinking.

  105. #105 |  glasnost | 

    That implies that you believe that the government can continue to incur deficits, “forever”? How does that work, exactly?

    Yes. Here’s a thought experiment for you. How many years could we run a budget deficit of $1 on our current government revenue of > 1 trillion $/yr? The only constraint are interest costs. After 100 billion years, at current interest rates, we’d be paying interest of perhaps 0.003% of current revenues ($100 billion in debt, 3% interest).

    Obviously, these are much larger deficits, but interest rates float. The trend has been nothing but down since at least the 1970’s, and there’s no sign of it much turning around. Meanwhile, the above analysis is *too pessimistic”, because tax revenues grow every year, along with GDP.
    As long as the growth in your debt is below the growth in GDP and tax revenue as % of GDP stays constant, you can run not only deficits, but steadily larger deficits every year while paying less in interest as a % of total revenue every year than the year before.

    Unfortunately the number of Americans who understand this remains at >1%, so the Boogah Boogah Large Numbered Deficits hysteria reigns supreme (this is not to say that current deficit sizes are sustainable forever, they’re not, but at some point between 2020 and 2040, given expected growth rates, ones of this absolute size will essentially be holding even)

  106. #106 |  Rune | 

    it reminded me of comment threads up in this here place whenever Radley posts something on agreeing with a habitual enemy.

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