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Florian
06-22-2011, 06:06 AM
Good article by Stephen Metcalf of Slate on one of the founding fathers of American libertarianism, Robert Nozick:

http://www.slate.com/id/2297019/pagenum/all/

graz
06-22-2011, 07:39 AM
Good article by Stephen Metcalf of Slate on one of the founding fathers of American libertarianism, Robert Nozick:

http://www.slate.com/id/2297019/pagenum/all/

Libertarianism: A Scam?

badhat says: No. Bootstraps, I paid for health insurance myself (even while destitute), Government always the problem.

operative says: No. My patented conservo-libertoonism disallows smoking, chewing gum, and Lotto. Therefore profit! Estonia, Singapore and LDS.

Unit says: No. Although I would never call myself a libertarian; I walk like one, talk like one, sing in the shower like one. I'm just exploring ideas. A minimum wage floor is tragic in idea exploration land. Pies for all -- and bigger slices of pie at that, if only market forces flourished.

Sugarthang says: I'm the latest and greatest iteration of liberty. Everyone else is a suckaface ... suck on that. Like Gingrich ... I'm an ideas man.

P.S. Thanks Florian. Good article.

operative
06-22-2011, 08:38 AM
Good article by Stephen Metcalf of Slate on one of the founding fathers of American libertarianism, Robert Nozick:

http://www.slate.com/id/2297019/pagenum/all/

A response by Matt Welch:
http://reason.com/blog/2011/06/21/some-factual-errors-in-the-lat

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 09:43 AM
You're not still mad about that burqa crack are you? Well, I'm glad that people are upset that I'm a libertarian and not accusing me of being a conservative.

Florian
06-22-2011, 01:58 PM
You're not still mad about that burqa crack are you? Well, I'm glad that people are upset that I'm a libertarian and not accusing me of being a conservative.

I am not upset that YOU are a libertarian. Did you really think I posted this because you made a crack about burqas? I am upset that a philosopher of such intellectual brilliance as Nozick could defend such a preposterous system of ideas. I thought the article did a good job of exposing the main weakness of libertarianism. A word to the wise suffices, sugar.

operative
06-22-2011, 02:15 PM
I am not upset that YOU are a libertarian. Did you really think I posted this because you made a crack about burqas? I am upset that a philosopher of such intellectual brilliance as Nozick could defend such a preposterous system of ideas. I thought the article did a good job of exposing the main weakness of libertarianism. A word to the wise suffices, sugar.

It's based on tired (and demonstrably false) arguments, such as the notion that libertarianism is purely concerned with self interest--it is libertarians who are pushing to get prisons to do something about prison rape (a cause which I do support), end the foolish war on drugs, and stop stupid regulations, such as ones that were preventing food trucks from operating in El Paso. It is not because libertarians are a bunch of prisoners not wanting to be raped, or because they want to legally use cocaine and LSD, or that they want to start a food truck in El Paso. It is because they support the idea of individual liberty and oppose ill-conceived government regulation and abuse.

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 02:29 PM
I am not upset that YOU are a libertarian. Did you really think I posted this because you made a crack about burqas? I am upset that a philosopher of such intellectual brilliance as Nozick could defend such a preposterous system of ideas. I thought the article did a good job of exposing the main weakness of libertarianism. A word to the wise suffices, sugar.

Florian, I was just kidding homeboy / homegirl.

chiwhisoxx
06-22-2011, 02:34 PM
It's hard to fully express my rage for an article so awful, so terrible, that it's easily the worst thing I've read this year. And to hear others discuss is approvingly is quite sad; it would seem that others share Metcalf's truly awful understanding of political philosophy. Julian Sanchez makes most of the points I would want to make here:

http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/06/21/nozick-libertarianism-and-thought-experiments/

I don't exactly revere Nozick, and had a lot of problems with Anarchy, State and Utopia. But Metcalf can't even get basic facts right in the article that he should be able to google in 5 seconds. And more importantly, putting aside actual analysis of the political philosophy in the article, it's abundantly clear Metcalf has no fucking clue how people are actually taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy. Pure hackery.

operative
06-22-2011, 02:37 PM
It's hard to fully express my rage for an article so awful, so terrible, that it's easily the worst thing I've read this year. And to hear others discuss is approvingly is quite sad; it would seem that others share Metcalf's truly awful understanding of political philosophy. Julian Sanchez makes most of the points I would want to make here:

http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/06/21/nozick-libertarianism-and-thought-experiments/

I don't exactly revere Nozick, and had a lot of problems with Anarchy, State and Utopia. But Metcalf can't even get basic facts right in the article that he should be able to google in 5 seconds. And more importantly, putting aside actual analysis of the political philosophy in the article, it's abundantly clear Metcalf has no fucking clue how people are actually taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy. Pure hackery.

It adds weight to Bryan Caplan's recent Turing Test argument.

Florian
06-22-2011, 02:43 PM
It's hard to fully express my rage for an article so awful, so terrible, that it's easily the worst thing I've read this year. And to hear others discuss is approvingly is quite sad; it would seem that others share Metcalf's truly awful understanding of political philosophy. Julian Sanchez makes most of the points I would want to make here:

http://www.juliansanchez.com/2011/06/21/nozick-libertarianism-and-thought-experiments/

I don't exactly revere Nozick, and had a lot of problems with Anarchy, State and Utopia. But Metcalf can't even get basic facts right in the article that he should be able to google in 5 seconds. And more importantly, putting aside actual analysis of the political philosophy in the article, it's abundantly clear Metcalf has no fucking clue how people are actually taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy. Pure hackery.

I disagree. You have said nothing about the main points of the article, so I am not sure why you consider it pure hackery. I thought it was rather well-written---well above the average hackery of American journalists. I have "no fucking clue" how contemporary American students are taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy, but I do know something about political philosophy. So perhaps you would tell me what is wrong with this article.

The few factual inaccuracies are not that important.

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 03:09 PM
From the article:

Calling yourself a libertarian is another way of saying you believe power should be held continuously answerable to the individual's capacity for creativity and free choice. By that standard, Thomas Jefferson, John Ruskin, George Orwell, Isaiah Berlin, Noam Chomsky, Michel Foucault, and even John Maynard Keynes are libertarians. (Orwell: "The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians." Keynes: "But above all, individualism … is the best safeguard of personal liberty in the sense that, compared with any other system, it greatly widens the field for the exercise of personal choice.") Every thinking person is to some degree a libertarian, and it is this part of all of us that is bullied or manipulated when liberty is invoked to silence our doubts about the free market. The ploy is to take libertarianism as Orwell meant it and confuse it with libertarianism as Hayek meant it; to take a faith in the individual as an irreducible unit of moral worth, and turn it into a weapon in favor of predation.

I'll start first by giving Metcalf credit for having some reasonable understanding of diverse moral systems. The author is clearly several paygrades above your typical liberal commenter here. That said, the bolded part is pretty roflcopters.

Then have a look at the comment section.


Yep, a good assessment of the issue. What I've found is that this applies to all defense of capitalism and expressions of libertarianism, from Ayn Rand to Milton Friedman to Alan Greenspan. It really makes me wonder how these supposed "intellectual giants" got their titles, as their thinking is utterly daft.

Milton Friedman was, like, totally evil. Yeah, because, like, I read this book by Naomi Klein, and you know it was, how do I put this: shocking.

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 03:27 PM
The few factual inaccuracies are not that important.

I agree. So, you mean to say that factual inaccuracies are only important when they are many in number and particularly egregious, right? For example, like you accused me of doing here (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=213258&postcount=25) and I quote:

"What a sequence of non-sequitors and untruths (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=213258#post213258)."

You were referring, specifically, to my definition American exceptionalism. I will not repeat my definition of it because you have clearly established that it is false. I will only provide the reference to your own definition:

"The term refers to certain traits of American foreign policy, not to the vagaries of the American electoral system..... speaking of which, the election of Obama was probably a fluke anyway: had McCain not chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, Obama would almost certainly have lost. Still, I suppose it speaks well for the common sense of the American people that they saw through that fraud!"

Thank you, Florian. Thank you for pointing out the errors. I wonder, then, does this qualify under tireless watchdogging for "wingnut bs" per uncle ebeneezer's definition? I certainly hope so, in particular, because BJ is posting less frequently. We need a new watchdog. ARF!

Don Zeko
06-22-2011, 03:28 PM
From the article:



I'll start first by giving Metcalf credit for having some reasonable understanding of diverse moral systems. The author is clearly several paygrades above your typical liberal commenter here. That said, the bolded part is pretty roflcopters.

Then have a look at the comment section.



Milton Friedman was, like, totally evil. Yeah, because, like, I read this book by Naomi Klein, and you know it was, how do I put this: shocking.

I see that you are making sure to address the strongest arguments on the other side. After all, "some jackass said something stupid in the comments section" is surely a test that no conservative would fail.

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 03:33 PM
I see that you are making sure to address the strongest arguments on the other side. After all, "some jackass said something stupid in the comments section" is surely a test that no conservative would fail.

Don, in general, because I like to conduct myself in a way that I think a reasonable person should behave, I will usually stipulate to good points by the other side. There's an actual record on the forums, so feel free to look over my past posts.

With regard to the logic of your final sentence, it sounds like the justification for a race to the bottom. Frankly, it's a rationale that I don't share.

Now, I will troll the shit out of you just for the fuck of it, though. But that's comedy, something entirely different.

chiwhisoxx
06-22-2011, 03:34 PM
I disagree. You have said nothing about the main points of the article, so I am not sure why you consider it pure hackery. I thought it was rather well-written---well above the average hackery of American journalists. I have "no fucking clue" how contemporary American students are taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy, but I do know something about political philosophy. So perhaps you would tell me what is wrong with this article.

The few factual inaccuracies are not that important.

when I said "Julian Sanchez made most of the points I wanted to make here" what I meant was "Julian Sanchez made most of the points I wanted to make here". Read the post I linked to. It addresses pretty much everything in the article, including the highlight of Metcalf not coming within a country mile of understanding the Wilt Chamberlain argument. When people link to things, you may have to sometimes read them, especially when they explicitly say that it's central to their post.

Florian
06-22-2011, 03:47 PM
Thank you, Florian. Thank you for pointing out the errors. I wonder, then, does this qualify under tireless watchdogging for "wingnut bs" per uncle ebeneezer's definition? I certainly hope so, in particular, because BJ is posting less frequently. We need a new watchdog. ARF!

You are welcome. Now will you find some better way to amuse yourself?

By the way, there is a difference between minor factual inaccuracies that do not affect the drift of an argument (as in Metcalf's article), and your remark about the election of Obama being an example of American "exceptionalism," That is not even inaccurate; it is just silly. And I did not "define" American exceptionalism in the above quotation.

operative
06-22-2011, 04:01 PM
You are welcome. Now will you find some better way to amuse yourself?

By the way, there is a difference between minor factual inaccuracies that do not affect the drift of an argument (as in Metcalf's article), and your remark about the election of Obama being an example of American "exceptionalism," That is not even inaccurate; it is just silly. And I did not "define" American exceptionalism in the above quotation.

Florian, I'm curious (and I don't follow French politics too closely): Are there any major French politicians that are ethnic minorities? Anyone who could be a serious Presidential candidate? I remember hearing that Zidane contemplated politics (slogan: "I'll headbutt the competition!").

Florian
06-22-2011, 04:02 PM
when I said "Julian Sanchez made most of the points I wanted to make here" what I meant was "Julian Sanchez made most of the points I wanted to make here". Read the post I linked to. It addresses pretty much everything in the article, including the highlight of Metcalf not coming within a country mile of understanding the Wilt Chamberlain argument. When people link to things, you may have to sometimes read them, especially when they explicitly say that it's central to their post.

I read it, and wasn't impressed. I have no intention of re-reading Nozick to find out whether Metcalf got the Wilt Chamberlain "thought experiment" right or wrong. I will only say that the Metcalf laid his finger on the central weakness of American libertarianism: that it is ahistorical, utopian and ignores how capitalism actually functions. The example may not be as central to Nozick's argument as Metcalf implies, but it is fairly typical of the libertarian mindset.

chiwhisoxx
06-22-2011, 04:29 PM
I read it, and wasn't impressed. I have no intention of re-reading Nozick to find out whether Metcalf got the Wilt Chamberlain "thought experiment" right or wrong. I will only say that the Metcalf laid his finger on the central weakness of American libertarianism: that it is ahistorical, utopian and ignores how capitalism actually functions. The example may not be as central to Nozick's argument as Metcalf implies, but it is fairly typical of the libertarian mindset.

Ok, then I recommend you make a general argument about libertarianism, rather than relying on Metcalf's awful article, especially considering he focuses on Nozick. You don't have to re-read Nozick, obviously. But if you aren't going to, take it from someone who has in the last 4 months (and discussed it with people smarter than me) he gets it horribly wrong. And that seems like a problem for an article that spends a lot of time on Nozick. Not only does he get Nozick wrong, but he doesn't understand how people discuss and debate political philosophy in a productive manner. If you're so convinced libertarians are all the things you say they are, make a separate post. None of what you said defends Metcalf's terrible, terrible article.

stephanie
06-22-2011, 04:30 PM
I see that you are making sure to address the strongest arguments on the other side. After all, "some jackass said something stupid in the comments section" is surely a test that no conservative would fail.

Oh, I guess should have read over here before dragging that comment to the other thread.

stephanie
06-22-2011, 04:40 PM
but he doesn't understand how people discuss and debate political philosophy in a productive manner. If you're so convinced libertarians are all the things you say they are, make a separate post. None of what you said defends Metcalf's terrible, terrible article.

I haven't read Nozick for years with the exception of his thoughts on the Monty Hall problem, of all things, so I'd have to reread to form an opinion on how fair the treatment of the Wilt Chamberlain example is. Nothing Julian said was clearly convincing on that point, though. And I would be willing to reread for a discussion here should one actually happen, mainly because it's something I've been thinking about doing anyway, but that's not really relevant to the comment of yours that puzzles me.

Basically, I'm sure Metcalf understands how people discuss and debate political philosophy. I'm sure that he's taken philosophy classes and the like, and has a perfectly adequate education in how to read and discuss books more generally. Nothing in what he said demonstrates this obvious failing by him that you have alleged. Even if he misread or misremembered the function of the argument in question in the context of the overall argument, that would be a different claim. So is it possible to lay out in a simple way just how Metcalf has apparently shown an inability to understand how people read philosophy?

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 04:56 PM
... and your remark about the election of Obama being an example of American "exceptionalism," That is not even inaccurate; it is just silly."

Maybe, uhh, if in fact that was what I said. Here you go (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showpost.php?p=213243&postcount=17):

But you know, it oddly gives Americans a new justification for American Exceptionalism. We aren't perfect, but we try to uphold our ideals.

"It," as in Obama's election to the highest office, not "he." Or was that just me being racist and not recognizing Barack as a human being?


And I did not "define" American exceptionalism in the above quotation.

Sorry, I'll be clearer. You just accused me of a bunch of "untruths" and proceeded to explain how that was so.

chiwhisoxx
06-22-2011, 05:05 PM
I haven't read Nozick for years with the exception of his thoughts on the Monty Hall problem, of all things, so I'd have to reread to form an opinion on how fair the treatment of the Wilt Chamberlain example is. Nothing Julian said was clearly convincing on that point, though. And I would be willing to reread for a discussion here should one actually happen, mainly because it's something I've been thinking about doing anyway, but that's not really relevant to the comment of yours that puzzles me.

Basically, I'm sure Metcalf understands how people discuss and debate political philosophy. I'm sure that he's taken philosophy classes and the like, and has a perfectly adequate education in how to read and discuss books more generally. Nothing in what he said demonstrates this obvious failing by him that you have alleged. Even if he misread or misremembered the function of the argument in question in the context of the overall argument, that would be a different claim. So is it possible to lay out in a simple way just how Metcalf has apparently shown an inability to understand how people read philosophy?

sure. he doesn't grasp the point of a hypothetical scenario. trying to poke holes in the extent to which any of these are potentially realistic misses the point entirely. there are proper responses to the fat man in a cave scenario (there's a fat guy stuck in the entrance to a cave, and others are trapped inside. if they kill the fat guy blocking the entrance, they can live. if they don't, they will surely die). there are also pointless responses, such as "they'd never get inside the cave that way!" and "even if they killed the guy he'd still be blocking the entrance!" the purpose is to isolate principles, and the scenarios are used to create a sort of ceritus paribus; eliminating intervening variables to really get at what the core of a philosophy is. I think Metcalf engages in a lot of the pointless type of response to these scenarios in his article.

He doesn't really seem to understand the underlying point Nozick was trying to make, especially re: Chamberlain. He seems to think Chamberlain had an agreement with the owner beforehand to receive a portion of the ticket prices. No, no, no! The point is people are voluntarily paying more to see Chamberlain, and how this sort of things changes patterns of distribution. Nozick's point is that equal patterns of distribution are impossible to maintain because of this sort of behavior, and when evaluating the equality of a society, history of transactions needs to be taken into account.

I also don't think the factual errors can be so easily brushed aside. Metcalf is trying to discredit libertarianism, and saying things like "Nozick actually recanted his libertarianism!" means he's either ignorant or lying. I suspect the latter.

stephanie
06-22-2011, 05:15 PM
sure. he doesn't grasp the point of a hypothetical scenario. trying to poke holes in the extent to which any of these are potentially realistic misses the point entirely.

I don't think he was doing that. Nothing he said suggested to me that he was taking the hypothetically too literally. He was saying that it wasn't a good hypothetical because of differences relevant to the very argument made.

there are proper responses to the fat man in a cave scenario (there's a fat guy stuck in the entrance to a cave, and others are trapped inside. if they kill the fat guy blocking the entrance, they can live. if they don't, they will surely die). there are also pointless responses, such as "they'd never get inside the cave that way!" and "even if they killed the guy he'd still be blocking the entrance!" the purpose is to isolate principles, and the scenarios are used to create a sort of ceritus paribus; eliminating intervening variables to really get at what the core of a philosophy is.

I agree with your objection to the specific examples here; obviously they are moronic. I will review the Metcalf piece to be fair, but I do not think this is what he was doing at all, and this sort of thing normally does irritate me, so I would expect to notice it.

Florian
06-22-2011, 05:16 PM
Ok, then I recommend you make a general argument about libertarianism, rather than relying on Metcalf's awful article, especially considering he focuses on Nozick. You don't have to re-read Nozick, obviously. But if you aren't going to, take it from someone who has in the last 4 months (and discussed it with people smarter than me) he gets it horribly wrong. And that seems like a problem for an article that spends a lot of time on Nozick. Not only does he get Nozick wrong, but he doesn't understand how people discuss and debate political philosophy in a productive manner. If you're so convinced libertarians are all the things you say they are, make a separate post. None of what you said defends Metcalf's terrible, terrible article.

Maybe not. But I still think he is better informed than the average hack journalist and writes well. I have nothing to say about libertarianism myself. I long ago made up my mind that it is an ideology for Luftmenschen.

I know all too well how political philosophy is discussed and debated in academic circles, in English and in French. To say that such discussions are of no interest to the general public would be an understatement. That is why I posted this article, which is intended for the general public, not for academics.

chiwhisoxx
06-22-2011, 05:21 PM
I don't think he was doing that. Nothing he said suggested to me that he was taking the hypothetically too literally. He was saying that it wasn't a good hypothetical because of differences relevant to the very argument made.



I agree with your objection to the specific examples here; obviously they are moronic. I will review the Metcalf piece to be fair, but I do not think this is what he was doing at all, and this sort of thing normally does irritate me, so I would expect to notice it.

He doesn't do it maybe as often as I made it seem, but it's annoying enough when it does come up. This is one of the lines I had in mind:

Bearing in mind that all thought experiments beg our indulgence without requiring our stupidity, notice that, in order to abstract out this allegiance from allegiance to the team, to the sport, etc., and give it a dollar figure, Nozick has assigned what amounts to a market price to Wilt's talents while also suggesting the price was achieved by negotiation between Wilt and the owner.

stephanie
06-22-2011, 05:30 PM
Bearing in mind that all thought experiments beg our indulgence without requiring our stupidity, notice that, in order to abstract out this allegiance from allegiance to the team, to the sport, etc., and give it a dollar figure, Nozick has assigned what amounts to a market price to Wilt's talents while also suggesting the price was achieved by negotiation between Wilt and the owner.

I had picked out the following as possibly what you were thinking of, as it's the real critique:

To my critique of the Chamberlain example, a libertarian might respond: Given frictionless markets, rational self-maximizers, and perfect information, the market price for Wilt's services could not stay separable from the market price to see Wilt play. (Visionary entrepreneurs would create start-up leagues, competing leagues would bid up prices for the best players.) In a free-market paradise, capital will flow to talent, until rewards commensurate perfectly with utility. Maybe; and maybe in a socialist paradise, no one will catch the common cold. The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can't be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.

However, this is a valid argument by Metcalf, not at all the same kind of thing as denying that the factual scenario could ever come about.

For example, take that stupid violin player abortion argument. The scenario is something like "you wake up attached to a famous violin player and he needs you to stay attached to him for 9 months or he dies." You can response by complaining that this could never happen, it doesn't make medical sense, you couldn't possibly have gotten attached without waking up and consenting, blah, blah. All stupid arguments.

Yet you can also argue against the conclusions drawn by pointing out ways in which the analogy fails because it is unlike any real example (specifically, unlike pregnancy). People on both sides of the abortion debate will do that and do it in compelling ways, IMO.

I see that as more similar to the point Metcalf is making in saying that the analogy doesn't account for realities inherent in the world that it is supposed to help explain.

For example, the bit you quote relates to the following:

And yet if Anarchy would defend capitalism unashamedly, why does its most famous argument include almost none of the defining features of capitalism—i.e., no risk capital, no capital markets, no financier? Why does it feature a basketball player and not, say, a captain of industry, a CEO, a visionary entrepreneur? The example as Nozick sets it out includes a gifted athlete (Wilt Chamberlain), paying customers (those with a dollar to see Wilt play)—and yet, other than a passing reference to the team's "owners," no capitalist!

I think this is a fair line of argument, to which the response would be that this is addressed elsewhere in the book. But it's not a bad reading to note these problems and to ask if they are addressed, and it's certainly not a sign that he doesn't know how to read philosophy. Whether he is actually fair to the book I'm sure can be argued either way and I'd have to go back to the book to know what I think. I can totally see feeling that he's being unfair if you think Nozick satisfactorily explains why he has chosen the example he has and why he considers it representative of what he is discussing, despite these kinds of objections, but that's a different criticism than the "doesn't get philosophy" one.

Hume's Bastard
06-22-2011, 09:00 PM
It's hard to fully express my rage for an article so awful, so terrible, that it's easily the worst thing I've read this year...I don't exactly revere Nozick, and had a lot of problems with Anarchy, State and Utopia. But Metcalf can't even get basic facts right in the article that he should be able to google in 5 seconds. And more importantly, putting aside actual analysis of the political philosophy in the article, it's abundantly clear Metcalf has no fucking clue how people are actually taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy. Pure hackery.

and

I disagree. You have said nothing about the main points of the article, so I am not sure why you consider it pure hackery. I thought it was rather well-written---well above the average hackery of American journalists. I have "no fucking clue" how contemporary American students are taught to approach and grapple with works of political philosophy, but I do know something about political philosophy. So perhaps you would tell me what is wrong with this article.

The few factual inaccuracies are not that important.

I'm glad I only have a subscription to The Economist, and to none of the lesser rags Welch enlists to inflate his ego. It's clear the phalanx of journos Welch enlists against Metcalf know about making pinpricks in arguments in an essay until at some point the essay collapses. Yet, Welch doesn't accomplish it. Metcalf's central argument stands, and more so because he enlists an historical example to buttress it. Metcalf is not a philospher, and Welch is even less than one. We have dollars chasing big ideas for donors for whom facts are simply too scary and beneath the inflated self-conception of their own modest intelligences.

One pinprick: in one full-year survey of the history of philosophy, the 20th Century had only one "big'un". That was Ludwig Wittgenstein, who never directly addressed politics. That's a steep fall from the preceding centuries when political philosophy was at least an appendix to the epistemology and moral philosophy philosophers believed it appropriate to address. Rawls and Nozick are not in the same league as a Hume or Kant, and it has to do with the same historical context Metcalf rightly depicts.

All of this seems like warmed-over Kant, if only because took both was scrupulous enough to document all his doubts as well as his "solution". I think the place to start would be the infamous meeting between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume, for all the impact both had on Kant. The only time Kant is rumored to have missed an appointment was when a new Rousseau publication hit the shops. And, Kant claimed Hume as a challenge that forced him out of his "dogmatic slumbers". Finally, read some history.

That said, Metcalf's ode to the lost edutopia of the postwar years looks like the education equivalent of the deregulation meme of the 70s. That is, the period between the New Deal or the end of WW2 was a lost golden age (except for McCarthy), and then the 70s occurred. I'll blame Mick Jagger.

sugarkang
06-22-2011, 09:43 PM
The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can't be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.


However, this is a valid argument by Metcalf, not at all the same kind of thing as denying that the factual scenario could ever come about.


Which is all fine and good. The only thing that leaves me irate, then, is why you (not you) would apply this to libertarians and not liberals, as well? For example:

Paul Krugman says that if we don't pass $2 Trillion in stimulus, it will do no good. He knows we won't pass $2T, but he keeps yelling it. So, finally when Congress only passes half of what we need, he says that it's not going to work. Then when we achieve some modicum of success, it's because we passed the stimulus.

See?

And this is most maddening of all. When Jon Stewart calls out FOX News for being the scumbags they are sometimes, I find it hilarious. But then the left engages in the same sort of behavior and they feel it's justified? WTF is that? It's not Winning The Future.

It's a race to the bottom and I'm not racing. Why has this all turned into: "See how bad they are? I'm less bad." Look at TwinSwords' rant about lobbying contributions. Then when I show him that most contributions are from Democrats, there's an exception. Those are the "good" lobbyists. Lobbying isn't wrong; your team lobbying is wrong.

I'm tired of the hypocrisy, but I'll endure it as long as somebody makes it funny.

TwinSwords
06-22-2011, 10:36 PM
Look at TwinSwords' rant about lobbying contributions. Then when I show him that most contributions are from Democrats, there's an exception. Those are the "good" lobbyists. Lobbying isn't wrong; your team lobbying is wrong.
Wow.

First of all, the post you responded to had almost nothing to do with lobbying or lobbyists. It was about the policy planning network. You know, think tanks, foundations, institutions. Your response about lobbyists was a non sequitur and off topic. That's okay -- you're under no obligation to stick to the precise topic of every post you respond to. And I didn't mind responding to your post about lobbying. But you obviously didn't understand my initial post if you thought it was about lobbying in any except the most tangential, roundabout way.

Furthermore, your post directly above is a completely dishonest (or ignorant) misrepresentation of my post about lobbyists.

Starwatcher162536
06-22-2011, 11:09 PM
That article seems a little strange to me. Morality based arguments have always been second tier to efficiency and utility arguments when it comes to promoting Libertarian ideas. As far as I have seen at least, one doesn't even touch the morality based arguments until one gets really extreme.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 11:15 AM
The only thing that leaves me irate, then, is why you (not you) would apply this to libertarians and not liberals, as well?

I would not agree that I (not I) am applying this principle inconsistently.

stephanie
06-23-2011, 11:18 AM
That article seems a little strange to me. Morality based arguments have always been second tier to efficiency and utility arguments when it comes to promoting Libertarian ideas. As far as I have seen at least, one doesn't even touch the morality based arguments until one gets really extreme.

Metcalf seems to believe that for liberals or others on the left, the style of argument made by Nozick is the most compelling, at least when it comes to overall moral philosophical bases. That seems to me to be obviously true, although if others want to argue about it, I'm game. Therefore, the focus makes sense.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 06:18 PM
I would not agree that I (not I) am applying this principle inconsistently.

I totally deserve to be mocked. I just have a problem with using "one" sometimes, you know? It's just haughty.

sugarkang
06-23-2011, 07:58 PM
Wow.
Wow? Wow!


First of all, the post you responded to had almost nothing to do with lobbying or lobbyists. It was about the policy planning network. You know, think tanks, foundations, institutions.

You know, you're right. Your post was so :yawn: long that I just skimmed it. And like you say, it really was about think tanks, foundations, institutions.


Your response about lobbyists was a non sequitur and off topic. That's okay -- you're under no obligation to stick to the precise topic of every post you respond to.

My response was a non-sequitur? Uh, no. You didn't write much about lobbyists, but this bit about politics being "all about the money" was your grand conclusion. I direct your attention to the actual text that you wrote. Ooh! Here's a picture, just to switch it up for fun!

http://img638.imageshack.us/img638/6522/captureox.png (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/638/captureox.png/)

See that red part? That's you brah (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=6826&page=3).


Furthermore, your post directly above is a completely dishonest (or ignorant) misrepresentation of my post about lobbyists.

This is funny. And I'll tell you why it's funny. First, it's kind of like a pot-kettle-black type of thing, because you actually misrepresented my views not once, but twice, in the same thread. But then you're saying I misrepresented you, and uhh, I really didn't.

You? Twice. And I called you out on it. Twice. And then there were crickets.

http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/7460/52036492.png (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/42/52036492.png/)

=
=
=

That's cool.

Still, here I was ready to apologize to you for taking you out of context. You see, DoubleSpoons, I don't take people out of context on purpose. On occasion, however, it happens because I failed to read closely. In the most recent instances, I promptly apologized directly to the victims of my carelessness. It's true because it's searchable; it's true because the people will vouch for its truth. And I apologized to them because not only did I feel bad, but because it was the right fucking thing to do. That gives me credibility.

How credible are you?

I promise to spend much less time on you in the future.

Starwatcher162536
06-24-2011, 01:05 AM
Metcalf seems to believe that for liberals or others on the left, the style of argument made by Nozick is the most compelling, at least when it comes to overall moral philosophical bases. That seems to me to be obviously true, although if others want to argue about it, I'm game. Therefore, the focus makes sense.

Liberals, unlike Conservatives, don't seem to be making these moral arguments for Libertarian principles with any regularity. If all the article is doing is attempting to negate a certain class of stupid argument rarely used except by a sliver of the electorate, that's fine. Reading through it though I feel a more broad point is attempted to be made.

There is a high possibility I am not following you.

Florian
06-24-2011, 01:47 AM
Liberals, unlike Conservatives, don't seem to be making these moral arguments for Libertarian principles with any regularity. If all the article is doing is attempting to negate a certain class of stupid argument rarely used except by a sliver of the electorate, that's fine. Reading through it though I feel a more broad point is attempted to be made.

I would dispute your claim that the argument is used only by a sliver of the electorate, if you mean the conclusion Nozick draws from his Wilt Chamberlain "thought experiment." Most libertarians, I would say, believe in the absolute "freedom" or "autonomy" of the individual and regard any limitations on this freedom imposed by the state (government) as intolerable and unjustifiable. I would even deny that it is a stupid argument. It is just a bit simplistic. It is in fact what Europeans would call anarchism. If I consult a history of political thought in French, I will find Nozick compared to the 19th century anarchist political theorist.....Proudhon! (But Proudhon is also famous for "Property is theft.")

stephanie
06-24-2011, 05:20 PM
I basically agree with Florian.

Liberals, unlike Conservatives, don't seem to be making these moral arguments for Libertarian principles with any regularity.

Sure, but that doesn't mean that they don't need to be able to consider and address them.

I mean, if someone not actually in high school tells me that Ayn Rand is a major influence on his or her thought, I have no problem dismissing that person as not particularly intelligent or serious. Nozick, however, makes serious arguments of the sort I do think are worth considering even though I ultimately don't agree with them. Or don't agree with the key ones that are used to support libertarian as a political philosophy, since I agree with some of his arguments, obviously.

Starwatcher162536
06-24-2011, 07:07 PM
I would dispute your claim that the argument is used only by a sliver of the electorate, if you mean the conclusion Nozick draws from his Wilt Chamberlain "thought experiment." Most libertarians, I would say, believe in the absolute "freedom" or "autonomy" of the individual and regard any limitations on this freedom imposed by the state (government) as intolerable and unjustifiable. I would even deny that it is a stupid argument. It is just a bit simplistic. It is in fact what Europeans would call anarchism. If I consult a history of political thought in French, I will find Nozick compared to the 19th century anarchist political theorist.....Proudhon! (But Proudhon is also famous for "Property is theft.")

It's stupid. The only reason any of us scrape by at more then subsistence is because of a highly interdependent network (Society) in which we all voluntarily participate in. No one is stopping some wanna be Galt from moving to a forest and actually living by the fruits of his labor in truth. The fee for partaking in the aforementioned network is whatever the cumulative will of the network wants it to be as expressed through elections. There is no need to bring in all these thought experiments. It's all really is that simple.

All moral Libertarianism is is sophistry to attempt to justify being in the network without paying for the maintenance of the network.

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 07:30 PM
All moral Libertarianism is is sophistry to attempt to justify being in the network without paying for the maintenance of the network.

Because it's all about taxes and nothing to do with unjust coercion? Like, say, excessive police power? Libertarians only care about taxes and are only interested in paying less of them?

Starwatcher162536
06-24-2011, 08:01 PM
A fair criticism, though I generally am somewhat contemptuous of non-economic Libertarian positions. Not because I disagree with them, I usually do agree, but because It's hard for me not to question the movement's sincerity. On economic issues Libertarians will spring out of every nook and cranny (especially if it's against something the left proposes) to protest, but anytime a social issue comes around Libertarian support is tepid at best.

Let's take Rick Perry. Various Libertarianish heads here have praised his pro-business policies, yet not once have I heard mention of what appears to be his support for sodomy laws.

sugarkang
06-24-2011, 08:14 PM
A fair criticism, though I generally am somewhat contemptuous of non-economic Libertarian positions. Not because I disagree with them, I usually do agree, but because It's hard for me not to question the movement's sincerity. On economic issues Libertarians will spring out of every nook and cranny (especially if it's against something the left proposes) to protest, but anytime a social issue comes around Libertarian support is tepid at best.

Let's take Rick Perry. Various Libertarianish heads here have praised his pro-business policies, yet not once have I heard mention of what appears to be his support for sodomy laws.

I don't know if you read my posts, but I've given my take on this. First, your observation is correct. Libertarians care about economics more than anything else. But that just has to make sense for a couple of reasons. You have your social con libertarians like operative and then you have social liberal libertarians like me who think that women should be able to realize their full potential to be prostitutes without being judged as sluts by larger society. That's in addition to the obvious choice to wear pantsuits and run large corporations. So, on these matters, operative will sort of hold his tongue, but he doesn't actively promote it because he doesn't condone it, personally. (feel free to chime in and correct me at any time, operative)

So, the one thing that left and right libertarians have in common will be the money part. The other thing is that even though I'm socially liberal, and even more so than your standard liberal, I think that economics is paramount.

I think you've already seen my other thread on police bullshit, so I think you know that I'm sincere. It's not just the taxes.

operative
06-24-2011, 09:43 PM
A fair criticism, though I generally am somewhat contemptuous of non-economic Libertarian positions. Not because I disagree with them, I usually do agree, but because It's hard for me not to question the movement's sincerity. On economic issues Libertarians will spring out of every nook and cranny (especially if it's against something the left proposes) to protest, but anytime a social issue comes around Libertarian support is tepid at best.

Let's take Rick Perry. Various Libertarianish heads here have praised his pro-business policies, yet not once have I heard mention of what appears to be his support for sodomy laws.

But Rick Perry isn't a libertarian. He's closer to a libertarian than, say, Rick Santorum, but there are significant policy differences between him and Gary Johnson.

Starwatcher162536
06-24-2011, 11:15 PM
My point isn't whether or not Rick Perry is a Libertarian, but what you can infer about the common Libertarian priority rankings from Libertarian evaluations of Rick Perry.

operative
06-24-2011, 11:19 PM
My point isn't whether or not Rick Perry is a Libertarian, but what you can infer about the common Libertarian priority rankings from Libertarian evaluations of Rick Perry.

Why shouldn't libertarians praise Perry for his fiscal policy??

Florian
06-25-2011, 01:55 AM
......It's stupid.....

All moral Libertarianism is sophistry to attempt to justify being in the network without paying for the maintenance of the network.

Stupidity and sophistry are rarely found in the same person. I agree with you that libertarianism (like its European parent anarchism) is sophistical, but it has had some intelligent if eccentric defenders. Take this passage from Proudhon (which I found in the English Wikipedia article on him):

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

—P.-J. Proudhon, "What Is Government?", General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverly Robinson (London: Freedom Press, 1923), pp. 293-294. .

Sophistical, yes. Stupid, no.

operative
06-25-2011, 09:12 AM
Stupidity and sophistry are rarely found in the same person. I agree with you that libertarianism (like its European parent anarchism) is sophistical, but it has had some intelligent if eccentric defenders. Take this passage from Proudhon (which I found in the English Wikipedia article on him):



Sophistical, yes. Stupid, no.

I wouldn't confuse anarchism and libertarianism--Proudhon was a bit bizarre and more a forerunner for Chomsky than Nozick.

ledocs
06-25-2011, 11:31 AM
The Metcalf article was OK. I don't think he laid adequate groundwork for his concluding sentence, which took me by surprise, although I tend to agree with it. The problem is that it was not a philosophy article, it was an article about philosophy for a popular audience. I think there are problems with the Wilt Chamberlain hypothetical that are more intrinsic to it than the fact that it abstracts from actual historical market conditions in 1974 for determining the salary of an exceptional professional basketball player. I've read the hypothetical now, and it is far from unassailable on any number of grounds.

Here is just one thing. I buy some tickets to one of these games in which Wilt (WC) gets 25% of the ticket price. But I have no idea, ex ante, what overall demand for WC is going to be for the season. So I might have an idea about a just economic distribution if WC gets 25% of $1 million, and another idea if he gets 25% of $100,000, or $5 million, and so on. Nozick finds it inconceivable that anyone could have a claim against WC for distributive injustice, so long as there was a perfectly just distribution ex ante, before the season, and the new distribution after the basketball season resulted only from voluntary ticket purchases. I would have to read the chapter on envy to see why Nozick thinks this is "inconceivable," because it strikes me as very conceivable.

Another objection I have, and this is noted by Metcalf but perhaps not adequately, is that the 25% share of WC is not explained, we don't know what the mechanism for arriving at 25% was. But in fact, there would be a "negotiation" between WC, the other players, and the fans to determine what that share would be, even if we eliminate ownership and capital markets from consideration. If WC's share were 75%, the games might not be played, for example, because either the fans or the other players or neither would agree to be a party to games played under those terms.

eeeeeeeli
06-25-2011, 12:31 PM
I had picked out the following as possibly what you were thinking of, as it's the real critique:



However, this is a valid argument by Metcalf, not at all the same kind of thing as denying that the factual scenario could ever come about.

For example, take that stupid violin player abortion argument. The scenario is something like "you wake up attached to a famous violin player and he needs you to stay attached to him for 9 months or he dies." You can response by complaining that this could never happen, it doesn't make medical sense, you couldn't possibly have gotten attached without waking up and consenting, blah, blah. All stupid arguments.

Yet you can also argue against the conclusions drawn by pointing out ways in which the analogy fails because it is unlike any real example (specifically, unlike pregnancy). People on both sides of the abortion debate will do that and do it in compelling ways, IMO.

I see that as more similar to the point Metcalf is making in saying that the analogy doesn't account for realities inherent in the world that it is supposed to help explain.

For example, the bit you quote relates to the following:



I think this is a fair line of argument, to which the response would be that this is addressed elsewhere in the book. But it's not a bad reading to note these problems and to ask if they are addressed, and it's certainly not a sign that he doesn't know how to read philosophy. Whether he is actually fair to the book I'm sure can be argued either way and I'd have to go back to the book to know what I think. I can totally see feeling that he's being unfair if you think Nozick satisfactorily explains why he has chosen the example he has and why he considers it representative of what he is discussing, despite these kinds of objections, but that's a different criticism than the "doesn't get philosophy" one.

Jeopardy question:
A fat man in a cave, a violinist's abortion, Monty Hall, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Jeopardy answer:
What are the contents of an article on Libertarianism?

sugarkang
06-25-2011, 12:54 PM
Sophistical, yes. Stupid, no.

Sophistic? No.
Hyperbolic? Yes (for America).

But we had libertarian founders.
USA! USA! USA!

badhatharry
06-25-2011, 08:43 PM
Florian, I was just kidding homeboy / homegirl.

Psst. NSOH.

eeeeeeeli
06-25-2011, 09:19 PM
Stupidity and sophistry are rarely found in the same person. I agree with you that libertarianism (like its European parent anarchism) is sophistical, but it has had some intelligent if eccentric defenders. Take this passage from Proudhon (which I found in the English Wikipedia article on him):



Sophistical, yes. Stupid, no.
I would say that quote is very stupid. His argument rests on at least one logical fallacy. He's clearly stating untruths.

I swear, it is so nauseating to listen to supposedly intelligent people traffic in such inane hyperbole to supposedly make a point, and pretend they are doing something other than effectively lying.

Florian
06-26-2011, 02:42 AM
I would say that quote is very stupid. His argument rests on at least one logical fallacy. He's clearly stating untruths.

I swear, it is so nauseating to listen to supposedly intelligent people traffic in such inane hyperbole to supposedly make a point, and pretend they are doing something other than effectively lying.


Proudhon was no idiot. Marx thought highly enough of him to devote a book to refuting him. His peculiar brand of left-wing anarchism had an enormous influence on labor movements and left-wing intellectuals in the second half of the 19th century. It also had some influence on conservative, indeed fascist, critics of "liberalism" (in the European sense).

The passage I quoted is indeed sophistical.* You are free to call it stupid, but I wouldn't be surprised if you shared some of the "stupid" ideas contained in it---- like most people on the left. I think it is generally a good rule to assume that when a philosophical argument is made by someone of obvious intelligence like Nozick or Proudhon that it is not obviously wrong. What, by the way, is the one logical fallacy?

*A sophism or sophistical argument is a specious argument. It appears logical while actually representing a falsehood. A stupid argument is just a stupid argument. No need to look beyond appearances.

Florian
06-26-2011, 03:02 AM
The Metcalf article was OK. I don't think he laid adequate groundwork for his concluding sentence, which took me by surprise, although I tend to agree with it. The problem is that it was not a philosophy article, it was an article about philosophy for a popular audience.

Compare the final two paragraphs:

Another way to put it—and here lies the legacy of Keynes—is that a free society is an interplay between a more-or-less permanent framework of social commitments, and the oasis of economic liberty that lies within it. The nontrivial question is: What risks (to health, loss of employment, etc.) must be removed from the oasis and placed in the framework (in the form of universal health care, employment insurance, etc.) in order to keep liberty a substantive reality, and not a vacuous formality? When Hayek insists welfare is the road is to serfdom, when Nozick insists that progressive taxation is coercion, they take liberty hostage in order to prevent a reasoned discussion about public goods from ever taking place. "According to them, any intervention of the state in economic life," a prominent conservative economist once observed of the early neoliberals, "would be likely to lead, and even lead inevitably to a completely collectivist Society, Gestapo and gas chamber included." Thus we are hectored into silence, and by the very people who purport to leave us most alone.

Thanks in no small part to that silence, we have passed through the looking glass. Large-scale, speculative risk, undertaken by already grossly overcompensated bankers, is now officially part of the framework, in the form of too-big-to-fail guarantees made, implicitly and explicitly, by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, the "libertarian" right moves to take the risks of unemployment, disease, and, yes, accidents of birth, and devolve them entirely onto the responsibility of the individual. It is not just sad; it is repugnant.

With:

....... Just as Nozick would have us tax every dollar as if it were earned by a seven-foot demigod, apologists for laissez-faire would have us treat all outsize compensation as if it were earned by a tech revolutionary or the value-investing equivalent of Mozart (as opposed to, say, this guy, this guy, this guy, or this guy). It turns out the Wilt Chamberlain example is all but unkillable; only it might better be called the Steve Jobs example, or the Warren Buffett* example. The idea that supernormal compensation is fit reward for supernormal talent is the ideological superglue of neoliberalism, holding firm since the 1980s. It's no wonder that in the aftermath of the housing bust, with the glue showing signs of decay—with Madoff and "Government Sachs" displacing Jobs and Buffett in the headlines—"liberty" made its comeback. When the facts go against you, resort to "values." When values go against you, resort to the mother of all values. When the mother of all values swoons, reach deep into the public purse with one hand, and with the other beat the public senseless with your dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.

That, it seems to me, is the essence of his argument. Is it philosophical? Or is it journalistic rhetoric? I think it straddles the two.

eeeeeeeli
06-26-2011, 11:35 AM
Proudhon was no idiot. Marx thought highly enough of him to devote a book to refuting him. His peculiar brand of left-wing anarchism had an enormous influence on labor movements and left-wing intellectuals in the second half of the 19th century. It also had some influence on conservative, indeed fascist, critics of "liberalism" (in the European sense).

The passage I quoted is indeed sophistical.* You are free to call it stupid, but I wouldn't be surprised if you shared some of the "stupid" ideas contained in it---- like most people on the left. I think it is generally a good rule to assume that when a philosophical argument is made by someone of obvious intelligence like Nozick or Proudhon that it is not obviously wrong. What, by the way, is the one logical fallacy?

*A sophism or sophistical argument is a specious argument. It appears logical while actually representing a falsehood. A stupid argument is just a stupid argument. No need to look beyond appearances.

I have no doubt he was a very smart man. Yet of course, otherwise brilliant people often become so blinded by ideological fantasy that their ability to reason can fall apart. My favorite recent example. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/books/review/book-review-the-secret-knowledge-by-david-mamet.html)

So, the first logical fallacy - I'm not sure its proper name - but he is taking things that sometimes happen, or have a chance of happening, and stating that they always happen. Maybe this. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_probability)

Maybe this. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent) "The government says it wants to do X. X causes something bad to happen. Therefore the government does not want to do X.

Its just also riddled with inaccurate statements. "To be governed is to be fleeced"?

I wouldn't be surprised if we all shared some of the ideas contained within his incredibly broad and meandering rant. Is to be governed to be law-driven? Regulated? Sure.

It is also inevitably to be abused in some form, in that someone, under government somewhere will likely experience any of his listed laments. But that could be said of nearly any system. To be human, as such, is to be tortured, beaten, enslaved, raped, exploited, etc.

The irony of libertarianism to me - and maybe its grand failure/fallacy - is that it fastidiously picks over an area of government's specific failings, and then assumes that because without that area of government the failings would not exist, the absence of that area of government things will be necessarily better.

An example: Public schools are inefficient, etc. (private schools seem to be better). So getting rid of public schools will mean better schools. (see if you can find the glaring problem there!)

These criticisms always contain the concept of "liberty". When government, defined as tyranny, is imagined away, liberty is assumed to take its place. The opposite of tyranny is liberty, right? Yet this ignores the reality that tyranny comes in many forms - threats of violence, exploitative labor conditions, inequality, etc. Government is generally a response to that tyranny. Because it is not always perfect, does not mean that its absence is necessarily better.

For this reason, the existential rhetoric of libertarianism is a sort of continuous, hyperbolic dishonesty. Which has, it seems, completely washed over conservatism as well. There's a quality of cherry picking and relativism to the enterprise - in that likes are not compared to likes, and generalizations are used as first principles. Its all a bit sloppy and unserious.

operative
06-26-2011, 02:15 PM
The irony of libertarianism to me - and maybe its grand failure/fallacy - is that it fastidiously picks over an area of government's specific failings, and then assumes that because without that area of government the failings would not exist, the absence of that area of government things will be necessarily better.

An example: Public schools are inefficient, etc. (private schools seem to be better). So getting rid of public schools will mean better schools. (see if you can find the glaring problem there!)

The flaw in that argument is that libertarians tend not to argue that things would be perfect in the absence of government involvement. Merely that things would be better. So your final statement in your first sentence is correct, but its antecedent is not.

The approach to education is fundamentally not all that different than the approach to other issues: where you have essentially a monopoly, you will not have innovation or near as high of a quality product as you can get. It goes back to the mistaken notion that a group of people can come together under the name of government and somehow better manage things than a group of people coming together under the name of a corporation. I wouldn't want a single corporation controlling education. Especially not when that corporation is named "government."



These criticisms always contain the concept of "liberty". When government, defined as tyranny, is imagined away, liberty is assumed to take its place. The opposite of tyranny is liberty, right? Yet this ignores the reality that tyranny comes in many forms - threats of violence, exploitative labor conditions, inequality, etc. Government is generally a response to that tyranny. Because it is not always perfect, does not mean that its absence is necessarily better.

How is inequality tyranny? Are all doctoral students under tyranny because they earn comparatively little? Are they then magically freed from tyranny when they gain an academic position? This is a case where critics of libertarianism have it absolutely wrong. Inequalities of wealth, like inequalities of intelligence, height, beauty, etc. are perfectly natural. What is unnatural and yes, tyrannical, is to try to force people into some artificial equality in which you rob from those with more to give to those with less.

If inequality is tyranny, then we should have a policy of punching more attractive men in the face to give us less attractive guys a competitive chance. And we should force prodigious guitarists to play Django-style, to give less skilled guitarists a chance. Etc.

sugarkang
06-26-2011, 02:50 PM
It's a question of force vs. non-force. Justified or not justified. I'd urge people to check out Ezra Klein and Will Wilkinson in their very first diavlog pairing. Ezra asks: why do libertarians care so much about philosophy (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/153?in=00:51:32&out=01:10:01)?

On its face, it's a ridiculous question. Sadly pathetic, one might say. But as that evil bitch Ayn Rand said, you have to check your premises. You have to wonder what makes a smart guy like Ezra Klein think that philosophy is unnecessary in pushing through legislation. I don't have a problem with people disagreeing with libertarianism, but I wish liberals would realize the kind of "end justifies means" type of thinking they do. Any end can be justified depending on the lens, and is therefore arbitrary by itself.

ledocs
06-26-2011, 03:52 PM
The article was fine, florian, and the sentences you have in bold there are good. My point would only be that you have to try to beat Nozick at his own analytical game, which is a slog. I am sure that there is a huge literature on this now, some or much of which is written by liberal (in the American sense) opponents of Nozick. I had read the first 120 pages of "Anarchy..." before this discussion arose. I meant to finish the book, but it's boring and difficult, quite frankly, like most of analytical philosophy. I prefer difficult but not boring.

(By the way, I am pleased that you have decided, at least for the nonce, to resume talking to me.)

sugarkang
06-26-2011, 06:20 PM
Some rebuttals should be coming soon:
http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/
June 24, 2011 post.

Though, it makes me wonder where we are on the Gandhi timeline. Somewhere in between "they laugh at you" and "they fight you" would be my guess.

eeeeeeeli
06-26-2011, 11:28 PM
The flaw in that argument is that libertarians tend not to argue that things would be perfect in the absence of government involvement. Merely that things would be better. So your final statement in your first sentence is correct, but its antecedent is not.

I'm not sure how that is different than what I said. The assumption is that government is the problem. Maybe things wouldn't be ideal - but certainly better than with government.

The approach to education is fundamentally not all that different than the approach to other issues: where you have essentially a monopoly, you will not have innovation or near as high of a quality product as you can get. It goes back to the mistaken notion that a group of people can come together under the name of government and somehow better manage things than a group of people coming together under the name of a corporation. I wouldn't want a single corporation controlling education. Especially not when that corporation is named "government."
You didn't try to spot the glaring problem! I'll say it: if you take the public out of public education, you are no longer tasked with educating all children. That burden is now on the parents, who must either pay for private school or homeschool.

And if you are merely talking about moving to a voucher model, that's a pretty soft from of libertarianism, as the model is still "socialist". And if you're really interested in voucher/charter-based education as an alternative to classic public education, I'm afraid your results have proven to be marginally better at best, marginally worse at worst. (That's a whole other discussion, as I'll argue that failures in education have little to do with any kind of public vs. private problem - and simply larger social structures in general)


How is inequality tyranny? Are all doctoral students under tyranny because they earn comparatively little? Are they then magically freed from tyranny when they gain an academic position? This is a case where critics of libertarianism have it absolutely wrong. Inequalities of wealth, like inequalities of intelligence, height, beauty, etc. are perfectly natural. What is unnatural and yes, tyrannical, is to try to force people into some artificial equality in which you rob from those with more to give to those with less.

If inequality is tyranny, then we should have a policy of punching more attractive men in the face to give us less attractive guys a competitive chance. And we should force prodigious guitarists to play Django-style, to give less skilled guitarists a chance. Etc.
Well, I think the term is usually used improperly. But as far as it is so often stretched in reference to government, I was going along with that definition. Probably not a good idea.

But yeah - inequality isn't tyranny. Although it can be (in the sense we're using it). It was simply an example of the ways in which people can be subject to "tyrannical" conditions in which they are subject to exploitative relationships. For instance, a monopoly can be a tyranny of the marketplace.

I'd be much more interested in libertarians/conservatives answering leftwing criticisms that because their defense of government is a proposed solution to a problem, without government that problem would be worse. I think in many cases the starting assumption is that there wasn't a problem to begin with. That's fair enough, just as long as we get our assumptions straight. (i.e. without environmental regulation X, by what mechanism is industry Y going to end the initial pollution. Or maybe the pollution never bothered the libertarian/conservative in the first place... *cough* global warming :) )

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 02:53 AM
The assumption is that government is the problem. Maybe things wouldn't be ideal - but certainly better than with government.

I don't think so. I admit it sounds as if there's an assumption that government is the problem because we spend so much time complaining about it. Rather, if we want to get into the nuts and bolts, it's more that government needs to provide the justification for its existence. Charter schools can't gain traction because of the powerful teachers' unions. So, government is using its monopoly power to prevent a market solution from taking place. If government (public schools) is really necessary, then it shouldn't mind a little bit of competition.

http://img695.imageshack.us/img695/1904/dsc00253yc.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/695/dsc00253yc.jpg/)

This is a letter I got from our state government. They have my money. I asked them to send me the money that belongs to me. They told me that I'm "very important," but it's going to take them half a year to return my money.

HAHA!

And if you're really interested in voucher/charter-based education as an alternative to classic public education, I'm afraid your results have proven to be marginally better at best, marginally worse at worst.

If you're referring to the Stanford study, then you're not taking a couple important factors into consideration. Firstly, charter schools haven't been around very long. The public school system has been here more than half a century. Secondly, the fact that some results are better and some results are worse is a good thing. This is the "experimentation" that is required for innovation. Failure is an absolute requirement for success. The failed experiments will disappear while the successful models take over.

Oh. The EPA was a good thing. I don't know how old you folks are, but I remember acid rain the 1980s. Not cool. Though, it doesn't mean the EPA is the only solution. It's a simple tragedy of the commons scenario. We don't need a thousand pages of regulations.

Florian
06-27-2011, 03:35 AM
The article was fine, florian, and the sentences you have in bold there are good. My point would only be that you have to try to beat Nozick at his own analytical game, which is a slog. I am sure that there is a huge literature on this now, some or much of which is written by liberal (in the American sense) opponents of Nozick. I had read the first 120 pages of "Anarchy..." before this discussion arose. I meant to finish the book, but it's boring and difficult, quite frankly, like most of analytical philosophy. I prefer difficult but not boring.

Dreadfully boring, I agree. I have much the same feeling about Rawls, although I am more inclined to agree with him on social policy. Partly it is a question of literary style. But mainly it is a question of relevance. Analytic philosophy strives to be logical and scientifically sober etc. but the world of politics and history is neither.

In any case, I agree with Metcalf that there is something morally repugnant about libertarian arguments for the minimal state (utopia or anarchy?) that cater to the financial interests of the very rich. Whether there is a direct causal connection between Nozick's ideas, his WC "thought experiment," and the anti-tax, anti-regulatory, anti-welfare policies of Republicans would be rather difficult to prove. But if the right of star athletes to the fruits of their talents is indeed as absolute as Nozick claims, it is not too difficult to see how others--from casino capitalist bankers and hedge fund managers to CEOs---might come to see themselves as superstars, even if their talents are in the final analysis rather mediocre, besides being detrimental to the economy.

operative
06-27-2011, 09:31 AM
You didn't try to spot the glaring problem! I'll say it: if you take the public out of public education, you are no longer tasked with educating all children. That burden is now on the parents, who must either pay for private school or homeschool.

And if you are merely talking about moving to a voucher model, that's a pretty soft from of libertarianism, as the model is still "socialist". And if you're really interested in voucher/charter-based education as an alternative to classic public education, I'm afraid your results have proven to be marginally better at best, marginally worse at worst. (That's a whole other discussion, as I'll argue that failures in education have little to do with any kind of public vs. private problem - and simply larger social structures in general)

You're acknowledging that there are a variety of views among libertarians, so I wouldn't pick one particular one--the anti-school crowd--and say that they're the only true libertarians out of the bunch. The topic of the efficacy of the solution is a different matter, the libertarian solution of school choice (which has the support of such total libertarians as Michelle Rhee, Corey Booker, and Adrian Fenty) will probably continue to gain steam. So, libertarians are winning :D



But yeah - inequality isn't tyranny. Although it can be (in the sense we're using it). It was simply an example of the ways in which people can be subject to "tyrannical" conditions in which they are subject to exploitative relationships. For instance, a monopoly can be a tyranny of the marketplace.

Monopolies are usually the result, either directly or indirectly, of government policies.


I'd be much more interested in libertarians/conservatives answering leftwing criticisms that because their defense of government is a proposed solution to a problem, without government that problem would be worse. I think in many cases the starting assumption is that there wasn't a problem to begin with. That's fair enough, just as long as we get our assumptions straight. (i.e. without environmental regulation X, by what mechanism is industry Y going to end the initial pollution. Or maybe the pollution never bothered the libertarian/conservative in the first place... *cough* global warming :) )
Well global warming would be a great starting point. In place of the economy-killing proposals from the left, the libertarian idea is let private industry work. If there's a need for it, a company will develop the tools to simply suck the excess carbon out of the sky, problem solved.

graz
06-27-2011, 09:52 AM
Well global warming would be a great starting point. In place of the economy-killing proposals from the left, the libertarian idea is let private industry work. If there's a need for it, a company will develop the tools to simply suck the excess carbon out of the sky, problem solved.

You're acknowledging that there are a variety of views among libertarians
So henceforth we will assign you to the science-fiction crank apologist/deflector wing of conserva-libertoonism. Problem solved.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 10:15 AM
So henceforth we will assign you to the science-fiction crank apologist/deflector wing of conserva-libertoonism. Problem solved.

I don't go as far as operative. There's a tragedy of the commons problem with pollution where negative externalities get pushed on people who don't have the means or enough incentive to protect it. Over the years, air quality has been getting better and that did not happen by itself.

The issue is whether or not government is the best way to handle these problems. If it is, then you'll get no objection from me. But you have to prove it.

AemJeff
06-27-2011, 10:38 AM
I don't go as far as operative. There's a tragedy of the commons problem with pollution where negative externalities get pushed on people who don't have the means or enough incentive to protect it. Over the years, air quality has been getting better and that did not happen by itself.

The issue is whether or not government is the best way to handle these problems. If it is, then you'll get no objection from me. But you have to prove it.

Nope. The "issue" is assuming that magical technologies follow if markets were only just free enough. It's a "crank" issue because it has no basis in reality, is in fact pure wishful fantasy. It's also risibly appropriate to the title of this thread.

eeeeeeeli
06-27-2011, 10:58 AM
I don't go as far as operative. There's a tragedy of the commons problem with pollution where negative externalities get pushed on people who don't have the means or enough incentive to protect it. Over the years, air quality has been getting better and that did not happen by itself.

The issue is whether or not government is the best way to handle these problems. If it is, then you'll get no objection from me. But you have to prove it.
I think that's perfectly fair. I think we all ought to, once we've agreed on the problem, be open to any solution - whether it would be best handled by the markets, government, or a mix of both. I have no problem with pressure on government to "put up or shut up", but I extent the same skepticism to markets.

To quickly respond to the point on schools: I think the premise is flawed. When we talk about "good schools", what we're really talking about is demographics of the student population. Schools will always vary, and there has always been a good deal of experimentation. I don't think charters have really shown to add very much.

This makes perfect sense, if you start from the notion that different populations, due to great disparities in social capital, will require different models. The charter models simply aren't adequate to the task of the kind of remediation required to truly attack the achievement gap. Right now, much of their success is based on their benefiting from a selective population. Income is only one measure of social capital. Poor communities generally have deficits in many more areas of student capital, such as intact families, working hours, family issues, substance abuse problems, etc.

I'm not sure what the answer will be. I have my own ideas, but the fact is that we haven't really ever tried anything transformative. The reform models proposed by Rhee, et. al. largely revolve around the traditional classroom model - they simply blame the teacher when it doesn't work. Yet this is incredibly myopic. The model itself is flawed. You will always be able to find a handful of teachers who will be relatively successful despite working in a flawed model, but that simply isn't scalable, nor a reasonable expectation. I liken it to sending soldiers into combat with a terrible plan of action, then assuming that because there are some amazing soldiers who beat the odds, to expect all soldiers to.

A brief outline of my best proposal so far on public education would be to do more rigorous assessment of a student's social capital, with certain levels of diagnosis triggering further analysis. Some kids in poor schools are relatively prepared. Others are face horrible challenges. Essentially, their instruction would be delivered on a needs-based model. Some students would receive home visits, parents given classes and individualized support, tutoring, counseling, mentorship, etc. would be available on demand. Classrooms would be designed around a sort of "student capital" model, so that total needs, as measured by a student's human and social capital, would be able to be met - either by aids, language specialists, counselors, etc.

Basically, we can't rely on parents to "do the right thing", because too many don't. They can't because they don't know how or face circumstantial challenges. To ignore this fact is to set the child up for failure. It also sets up teachers for failure by asking them to do the impossible, especially when they are essentially compared with teachers at schools where the levels of student capital are enormously higher, yet the model remains the same. (For example, my daughter attends a public charter with a performance index score that nearly doubles many poor schools; the children's parents are generally highly educated and bring an enormous amount of capital to the school.)

eeeeeeeli
06-27-2011, 11:14 AM
Nope. The "issue" is assuming that magical technologies follow if markets were only just free enough. It's a "crank" issue because it has no basis in reality, is in fact pure wishful fantasy. It's also risibly appropriate to the title of this thread.
OK, so this is what I meant here:
"
I'd be much more interested in libertarians/conservatives answering leftwing criticisms that because their defense of government is a proposed solution to a problem, without government that problem would be worse."
The critique is that there is simply no market incentive to end pollution. Who is going to to make money off cleaning it up? Should the government simply be subsidizing these technologies? That seems to be a pretty problematic solution as well. Should the government get into the business of simply paying any polluting industry to develop technologies that reduce pollution? That would seem to end up simply rewarding polluters for poor planning, etc. "Oops, we polluted that lake, but we're working on the technology so that it won't happen again. And we're still waiting for that check." What happens when they either won't, or can't come up with the technology? Sounds like a license to pollute.

The same can be said for education, or a variety of other things society wants done but the "commons" can't pay for it by definition. Relying on businesses to "do the right thing", especially when it is more costly is absurd.

Cap and trade, in this light, seems an incredibly business-friendly solution to a serious problem. Unless you don't think the problem is really that serious, which brings us back to the original question of finding a solution to a problem. (Which I think is gets to a very real problem: the divergence in values. If an industry's pollution was killing off children, we wouldn't wait around for them to develop the technology to stop doing it. We would shut them down immediately. This makes me think conservatives/libertarians simply aren't serious about stopping pollution because they don't really see it as a problem.)

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 11:15 AM
Basically, we can't rely on parents to "do the right thing", because too many don't. They can't because they don't know how or face circumstantial challenges. To ignore this fact is to set the child up for failure. It also sets up teachers for failure by asking them to do the impossible, especially when they are essentially compared with teachers at schools where the levels of student capital are enormously higher, yet the model remains the same. (For example, my daughter attends a public charter with a performance index score that nearly doubles many poor schools; the children's parents are generally highly educated and bring an enormous amount of capital to the school.)

I think we agree on a lot of things. We're arguing at the margins. I think if liberals are a bit more open minded about letting some experimentation and competition take place, we could find out more definitively as time goes on. I'm not a libertarian fundamentalist. What I reject is dogma. And if we're going to get any kind of experimentation to happen, teachers' unions need to be dismantled. I don't know how many times I've heard Chris Christie say that teachers are good people, but it's the unions that are the problem. Then, the media makes it out to be a war on teachers because they have a profit motive, just like anyone else, to sensationalize it.

Success in underprivileged communities, IMO, has less to do with how good the teachers are and more to do with welfare single moms needing some help with child daycare. Charter schools are flexible enough to provide longer hours of operation and that relieves some of mom's burden. However, union contracts forbid public school teachers from working longer hours, even if they wanted to!

You're right about the Tiger Mom type of parents that bring human capital into the school and the advantages that has. I generally agreed with everything else that you've said. However, we need to go back to experimentation, because that's the only way we'll get innovation like this (http://www.theroot.com/buzz/another-year-success-urban-prep-sends-100-grads-college).

ledocs
06-27-2011, 11:31 AM
Here is a book about "Anarchy..." by Jonathan Wolff that looks like it's worth reading.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0804718563/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&seller=

eeeeeeeli
06-27-2011, 11:32 AM
I think we agree on a lot of things. We're arguing at the margins. I think if liberals are a bit more open minded about letting some experimentation and competition take place, we could find out more definitively as time goes on. I'm not a libertarian fundamentalist. What I reject is dogma. And if we're going to get any kind of experimentation to happen, teachers' unions need to be dismantled. I don't know how many times I've heard Chris Christie say that teachers are good people, but it's the unions that are the problem. Then, the media makes it out to be a war on teachers because they have a profit motive, just like anyone else, to sensationalize it.

Success in underprivileged communities, IMO, has less to do with how good the teachers are and more to do with welfare single moms needing some help with child daycare. Charter schools are flexible enough to provide longer hours of operation and that relieves some of mom's burden. However, union contracts forbid public school teachers from working longer hours, even if they wanted to!

You're right about the Tiger Mom type of parents that bring human capital into the school and the advantages that has. I generally agreed with everything else that you've said. However, we need to go back to experimentation, because that's the only way we'll get innovation like this (http://www.theroot.com/buzz/another-year-success-urban-prep-sends-100-grads-college).
I don't get the sense that the media is making it out to be a war on teachers. Teachers and unions are. But the media is generally of the new left/conservative alliance behind the new reform movement, which completely agrees that unions are the problem.

I feel it is a war on teachers, in the sense that they are being blamed for failing schools. Why should teachers be expected to work longer hours at poor schools? Why can't we invest money in paying for afterschool help, or extra money for teachers who volunteer to? This is just another example of expecting results on the backs of teachers. To return to my war analogy - would you say that rules requiring soldiers to take steps to protect themselves, while reducing combat effectiveness, is getting in the way of victory? Of course not - they simply need more support.

I understand people don't want to "throw money at the problem". Neither do I. But as a teacher, I see many areas of student need that aren't being met because there is simply not enough resources to do it.

The current model is to expect teachers at poor schools to go above and beyond normal (what "works" at wealthier schools). Unions and teachers find this unfair. The public and politicians seem to disagree, and seek to overpower their resistance through limiting their voice, imposing ever more top-down mandates and threatening dissent. What they are proposing will only ever find success at the margins, and in the meantime education will suffer - dumbed-down, controlled, and had "soul" sucked out of it. Low-social capital students, whose parents didn't get them into the lottery charter schools who attract higher-social capital parents (who often times could have simply moved to better neighborhoods. There are affordable apartments near my child's high API school), will continue to be "warehoused" in dysfunctional schools, their needs still unmet.

AemJeff
06-27-2011, 11:33 AM
OK, so this is what I meant here:
"

The critique is that there is simply no market incentive to end pollution. Who is going to to make money off cleaning it up? Should the government simply be subsidizing these technologies? That seems to be a pretty problematic solution as well. Should the government get into the business of simply paying any polluting industry to develop technologies that reduce pollution? That would seem to end up simply rewarding polluters for poor planning, etc. "Oops, we polluted that lake, but we're working on the technology so that it won't happen again. And we're still waiting for that check." What happens when they either won't, or can't come up with the technology? Sounds like a license to pollute.

The same can be said for education, or a variety of other things society wants done but the "commons" can't pay for it by definition. Relying on businesses to "do the right thing", especially when it is more costly is absurd.

Cap and trade, in this light, seems an incredibly business-friendly solution to a serious problem. Unless you don't think the problem is really that serious, which brings us back to the original question of finding a solution to a problem. (Which I think is gets to a very real problem: the divergence in values. If an industry's pollution was killing off children, we wouldn't wait around for them to develop the technology to stop doing it. We would shut them down immediately. This makes me think conservatives/libertarians simply aren't serious about stopping pollution because they don't really see it as a problem.)

I'm closely aligned with your points here. I think one of the primary problems that "liberal" policy ideas are designed to solve is the tragedy of the commons. Either we take collective responsibility and manage certain things whose value isn't well represented in market terms (paradigmatically: the "environment") or they won't be managed reasonably and most people's interests will be damaged over the long haul. Libertarians can't serious about that because the moral structure of Libertarianism isn't adequate to the challenge. Conservatives seem altogether too concerned about rights in proportion to how much property an entity controls, which forces a bias in favor of corporate interests. Either way, neither outlook can come to grips with this class of problems, I think.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 11:49 AM
I feel it is a war on teachers, in the sense that they are being blamed for failing schools.
I think there's some of that going on, but I agree with you. That's wrong.

Why should teachers be expected to work longer hours at poor schools? Public school teachers don't need to work extra hours, nor should they be expected to. They should be entitled to whatever their union contracts give them. However, public unions should not be allowed to prevent charter schools from opening up. Some charter schools have the extra manpower to provide the long "baby-sitting" hours. The problem isn't that public school teachers need to work extra hours. The problem is that they are preventing teachers willing to work extra hours from coming in to provide an alternative.


Why can't we invest money in paying for afterschool help, or extra money for teachers who volunteer to? This is just another example of expecting results on the backs of teachers.
Some union contracts expressly forbid teachers to work more than a certain number of hours. I understand how you might feel like more weight is being put on your back. Nobody should force you to do more work; that would be wrong. But if there are people willing to do more work, it's wrong to prevent them from doing so, especially when our kids are in need.


But as a teacher, I see many areas of student need that aren't being met because there is simply not enough resources to do it.

The current model is to expect teachers at poor schools to go above and beyond normal (what "works" at wealthier schools). Unions and teachers find this unfair.

If you look at the link I posted, it's an all black charter school in the south-side (aka bad neighborhood) of Chicago. All male, meaning high propensity toward incarceration, impoverished in money terms and human capital terms, so, disadvantaged in every way. This is the second year in a row that they've sent all of their students to four year colleges.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 12:15 PM
I don't go as far as operative. There's a tragedy of the commons problem with pollution where negative externalities get pushed on people who don't have the means or enough incentive to protect it. Over the years, air quality has been getting better and that did not happen by itself.

The issue is whether or not government is the best way to handle these problems. If it is, then you'll get no objection from me. But you have to prove it.

Well, the government has made the problems with pollution better so far.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you are defining as a non-governmental solution that can work. Litigation is a common approach, but that's not non-governmental. Seems to me that when you have a negative externality you need for the user or produced to pay for the externality (producers will pass it on to users anyway, in large part). I don't see how you do that without something that we'd call governmental action.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 12:42 PM
Well, the government has made the problems with pollution better so far.

This goes back to fundamental ideology. This also relates to another post I had about Ezra Klein vs. Will Wilkinson. Ezra asks, "Why do libertarians care so much about philosophy?"

Government power and coercion are one in the same. The problem is that "coercion" is a loaded word and it makes us think of ski masks, rohypnol and rape. Anyway, government gets its power from the people. It only has power because we allow it. Therefore, I believe that government has a duty to justify its power over us. Taxes are the obvious example. Even operative, right wing crank that he is, doesn't think zero taxes are possible.

So, my question isn't whether government can provide solutions to our problems. My question is whether or not another solution is possible in the private sector. If not, government is justified. However, government may not prevent private sector solutions from forming. This happens a lot and this is wrong.

operative
06-27-2011, 12:50 PM
I think that's perfectly fair. I think we all ought to, once we've agreed on the problem, be open to any solution - whether it would be best handled by the markets, government, or a mix of both. I have no problem with pressure on government to "put up or shut up", but I extent the same skepticism to markets.

To quickly respond to the point on schools: I think the premise is flawed. When we talk about "good schools", what we're really talking about is demographics of the student population. Schools will always vary, and there has always been a good deal of experimentation. I don't think charters have really shown to add very much.

This makes perfect sense, if you start from the notion that different populations, due to great disparities in social capital, will require different models. The charter models simply aren't adequate to the task of the kind of remediation required to truly attack the achievement gap. Right now, much of their success is based on their benefiting from a selective population. Income is only one measure of social capital. Poor communities generally have deficits in many more areas of student capital, such as intact families, working hours, family issues, substance abuse problems, etc.

I'm not sure what the answer will be. I have my own ideas, but the fact is that we haven't really ever tried anything transformative. The reform models proposed by Rhee, et. al. largely revolve around the traditional classroom model - they simply blame the teacher when it doesn't work. Yet this is incredibly myopic. The model itself is flawed. You will always be able to find a handful of teachers who will be relatively successful despite working in a flawed model, but that simply isn't scalable, nor a reasonable expectation. I liken it to sending soldiers into combat with a terrible plan of action, then assuming that because there are some amazing soldiers who beat the odds, to expect all soldiers to.

A brief outline of my best proposal so far on public education would be to do more rigorous assessment of a student's social capital, with certain levels of diagnosis triggering further analysis. Some kids in poor schools are relatively prepared. Others are face horrible challenges. Essentially, their instruction would be delivered on a needs-based model. Some students would receive home visits, parents given classes and individualized support, tutoring, counseling, mentorship, etc. would be available on demand. Classrooms would be designed around a sort of "student capital" model, so that total needs, as measured by a student's human and social capital, would be able to be met - either by aids, language specialists, counselors, etc.

Basically, we can't rely on parents to "do the right thing", because too many don't. They can't because they don't know how or face circumstantial challenges. To ignore this fact is to set the child up for failure. It also sets up teachers for failure by asking them to do the impossible, especially when they are essentially compared with teachers at schools where the levels of student capital are enormously higher, yet the model remains the same. (For example, my daughter attends a public charter with a performance index score that nearly doubles many poor schools; the children's parents are generally highly educated and bring an enormous amount of capital to the school.)

There is reason to accept regulations when the negative externalities associated with not accepting regulations plainly and significantly outweighs the economic and freedom costs of accepting regulations. That's why we accept that doctors have to be licensed, for example.

I do not believe that we are yet there with global warming. We have a pretty clear link between emissions and the increase in the mean surface temperature of the Earth. The extent of the link, the damage caused and the rapidity of the damage is certainly debated and I see absolutely no reason to jump aboard the Malthusian train to economic backwardness.

Eeeeli, here's a post on cap and trade: http://reason.com/archives/2009/05/19/cap-and-trade-delusions. Cap and trade would likely lead to a reduction of GDP around 2-3%. There are far better ways of addressing the issue, and waiting for the technology to evolve, as Levitt suggests, is one way to do so.

EDIT: I believe that I meant to quote a different post. I'll get to the education arguments in a different post.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 01:46 PM
So, my question isn't whether government can provide solutions to our problems. My question is whether or not another solution is possible in the private sector. If not, government is justified.

I generally agree with this from a pragmatic perspective. However, and I think Jeff made this point already, we are by definition talking about areas in which the private sector has failed. Calling something a negative externality is a way of explaining why the market doesn't take care of it.

Litigation and the common law torts are also ways of taking care of what the market doesn't, of course. Environmental law is in part built on the common law. What I find slightly odd about some libertarians is the going on about government action as if the only significant government action was statutory, not the common law torts. Of course, in other contexts conservatives don't like tort law and prefer statutory modifications. This seems somewhat inconsistent or at least not-thought-through.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 01:54 PM
I generally agree with this from a pragmatic perspective. However, and I think Jeff made this point already, we are by definition talking about areas in which the private sector has failed.
And I'm saying that government must constantly justify itself, not just once. Maybe we needed the post office 100 years ago. Today?

Litigation and the common law torts are also ways of taking care of what the market doesn't, of course. Environmental law is in part built on the common law. What I find slightly odd about some libertarians is the going on about government action as if the only significant government action was statutory, not the common law torts.
I mentioned this in the Democratic Party thread. Tort law is destroying America.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 02:01 PM
And I'm saying that government must constantly justify itself, not just once.

Yeah, I assume that's what the debates about specific policies are about. No one is in favor of government action in all cases.

I mentioned this in the Democratic Party thread. Tort law is destroying America.

I saw, but it didn't seem related to anything that had been posted. That's part of why I brought it up over here.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 02:16 PM
No one is in favor of government action in all cases.
Okay, but that wasn't my argument, either. The government needs to justify its existence. It doesn't do that.


I saw, but it didn't seem related to anything that had been posted. That's part of why I brought it up over here.

Every time the little guy "sticks it" to the big bad corporation, several things happen. First, you make it harder and expensive to comply with the law. That means companies with the most money (usually bigger companies) are best equipped to buy lawyers to keep them in compliance. Result: smaller mom and pop shops have to go out of business. Second, this create fear of litigation. One might even fear litigation based on faulty statistics. Rational or not, fear in the market means people will not put their capital at risk. The fear, just by itself, prevents new job formation. Third, because of the high cost of litigation, whether real or imagined, means that new competitors are loathe to enter the market. All of the rules, well-intentioned as they are, means a company needs more lawyers to get off the ground. Bigger barrier to entry means the existing large corporations are shielded from competition.

I like Herman Cain's "I don't like to read" rule. Sounds like a great way to restore capitalism.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 02:31 PM
Every time the little guy "sticks it" to the big bad corporation, several things happen.

This ignores the real discussion, though.

Basically, tort law is part of the common law and thus is usually seen as "conservative," vs. statutory regulation. Conservatives tend to talk up ways of handling problems through common law means (or related statutory schemes, like bankruptcy) as if it were an alternative to government involvement. I think that ignores the fact that law is law, and the common law is no less government "coercion," if you like the term.

However, it is true that common law remedies are more "conservative" in at least the traditional sense, in that they have been developed by society over time, are traditional. This is probably less of a concern for libertarians -- in fact, the non-conservative nature of libertarianism is partly why I could never be libertarian, I'm too much of a Burkean myself. However, it creates a weird inconsistency when self-proclaimed conservatives want to interfere with traditional remedies through regulation, i.e., tort reform.

I'm in favor of tort reform done correctly, but I just think most discussions of it are rather nonsensical for the kinds of reasons I've identified and, more significantly, assume that the problems are more easily fixed than they are.

First, you make it harder and expensive to comply with the law.

Not true. It's a means short of government policing to enforce the law.

But you seem to be confusing tort law and statutory remedies here or at least treating them interchangeably, so I think we need to clarify to continue the conversation.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 02:55 PM
This ignores the real discussion, though.

You didn't answer my first assertion. Government must continually justify itself. I'm talking executive branches here. TSA, DoJ, DoE, etc. I'm sure we need some of them, but not all of them. And of those we need, I'm sure there are ways to privatize them so that it's not a tax burden on the rich, the poor or anyone.


Basically, tort law is part of the common law and thus is usually seen as "conservative," vs. statutory regulation. Conservatives tend to talk up ways of handling problems through common law means (or related statutory schemes, like bankruptcy) as if it were an alternative to government involvement. I think that ignores the fact that law is law, and the common law is no less government "coercion," if you like the term.

I don't know what you mean. This might be a general criticism on conservatives, but has little to do with what we've been discussing. I like bankruptcy law. I don't recall where I've asserted some common law solution to anything.

However, it creates a weird inconsistency when self-proclaimed conservatives want to interfere with traditional remedies through regulation, i.e., tort reform.

I don't follow.


I'm in favor of tort reform done correctly...
I believe we all have a subjective definition of correct.

... assume that the problems are more easily fixed than they are.

This depends on how one defines problems. You'd like to intervene more. I want things to fail more. I think the intervention creates bigger problems than just leaving things alone in most cases.

Market intervention, in the long run, creates false premises. Price controls were thoroughly debunked during the Nixon administration. Yet, we still have a remnant of this called "minimum wage." Us cranky right wingers just let it stay because it wasn't worth fighting over something that didn't really have a big effect on the economy. But I argue that it had a huge effect on our culture and created all sorts of faulty assumptions. Chris Rock said, "You know what the minimum wage is? That means that they'd pay you less if they could, but they can't because it's illegal." Hilarious. Also, partly wrong in an important way.

It creates an assumption of rich vs. poor class warfare. It perpetuates the labor theory of capital that says the workers do the real "work" and that rich people "exploit" the poor. It perpetuates the false premise that minimum wage helps poor ethnic minorities, when it disadvantages them.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 03:20 PM
You didn't answer my first assertion. Government must continually justify itself.

I don't see how I didn't. I said individual policies need to explain why they are needed. In tune with that, I'm fine with revisiting policies to see if they aren't working or if an alternative is proposed. The point is that we will never have gov't doing everything or nothing, so this generalized discussion about government good or bad is silly. The question is why you think government involvement is necessary or desireable in a particular circumstance.

I don't see any positives in getting rid of the DOJ or even (to pick a more realistic one, and policy position that is adored by many RWers) the Dept of Ed, but I'd consider an argument for it. Well, for the second, I'm afraid that I'd consider the view that we should privatize the DOJ rather nutty and the worst libertarian extreme.

I don't know what you mean. This might be a general criticism on conservatives, but has little to do with what we've been discussing. I like bankruptcy law. I don't recall where I've asserted some common law solution to anything.

I'm talking generally about the types of arguments that one tends to get. But your liking BK law is along the same lines. That's a form of government relief from the market, and created by statute, i.e., government coercion. I'm fine with BK law too (although not all aspects of it -- I think it's too easy to hide assets in some states, particularly BK havens like Florida), but there's an inherent inconsistency.

I don't follow.

What don't you follow?

You'd like to intervene more.

Oh? Seems to me you are just assuming this, and we haven't even established what is intervening. For example, if I wanted to maintain tort remedies and you wanted to get rid of them by statute, who is intervening? On the other hand, if I wanted to replace an ineffective tort system in a particular area (environmental law) with a different approach (taxing externalities, say), I could probably argue that my approach is less interventionist.

I think the broad discussion of these as pro or anti government is nothing but rhetoric. At least, assuming we are all admitting that no one involved in the discussion wishes to or believes you can do away with government action entirely.

None of the rest of your post seems to address mine at all.

Specifically, my comment about problems being more easily solved than they are referred to conservatives who like to go on about tort reform in theory, but usually don't have much of an answer as to how their ideas about reform would address the real problems in the litigation system without creating greater ones. Here, I'm the one being skeptical about government intervention and supporting the conservative, traditional, existing system. And like I said, I'm in favor of reform if you are willing to engage with the difficulties, since I do think there are problems in the system as it currently works.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 03:45 PM
I don't see how I didn't. I said individual policies need to explain why they are needed. In tune with that, I'm fine with revisiting policies to see if they aren't working or if an alternative is proposed. Agreed.


The point is that we will never have gov't doing everything or nothing, so this generalized discussion about government good or bad is silly.
Of course this is on a sliding scale, but I think you've just asserted an all or nothing proposition and then struck it down? I don't know how many times I have to repeat that I'm not in favor of zero government.


I don't see any positives in getting rid of the DOJ
DEA is under DOJ. First thing i'd kill. Obliterate it.

or even (to pick a more realistic one, and policy position that is adored by many RWers) the Dept of Ed, but I'd consider an argument for it.
Let the states handle their crappy education.

I'm afraid that I'd consider the view that we should privatize the DOJ rather nutty and the worst libertarian extreme.
I'm not sure if you're trying to misconstrue my words on purpose or just genuinely misreading. If government is justified, then there's no reason to privatize it. In other words, if we need it, we won't be having to walk down your libertarian nightmare.


What don't you follow?
Something you said about common law vs. statutes?


Oh? Seems to me you are just assuming this, and we haven't even established what is intervening.

Let me clarify. On the one hand, I'd have to intervene and gut the status quo. So, I'd have a bigger effect on the status quo than you would. However, government and law are by definition interventions in freedom. I would be removing them.

... no one involved in the discussion wishes to or believes you can do away with government action entirely.
You've mentioned this before in another thread. So have many other liberals. I don't know how many libertarians argued for zero government action, but I've never said such a thing. I'm frankly weary of having to repeat myself.


Specifically, my comment about problems being more easily solved than they are referred to conservatives who like to go on about tort reform in theory, but usually don't have much of an answer as to how their ideas about reform would address the real problems in the litigation system without creating greater ones.
With doctors, I'd like an assumption of risk by the patient. This lowers malpractice litigation, which lowers malpractice insurance, which lowers medical care costs. This also creates better care because there's less defensive medicine. Doctors will give you options for the best care instead of what creates the least legal liability, e.g., cesarean sections vs. live birth.

I'd like remedies calculations to be completely separated and moved away from lawyers, juries and judges. They're obviously inept at math. That's another topic.

popcorn_karate
06-27-2011, 04:36 PM
However, government and law are by definition interventions in freedom. I would be removing them.

i'd say it is the exact opposite. government and law are what protect me from roving bands of psychotic libertarians imposing their will at the point of a sword on peaceful people like me.

the rule of law is what guarantees your freedom, and the government is the tool that perpetuates the rule of law.

I'm sure you imagine yourself at the head of that roving band of lunatics, and so think it is maximum freedom. But its just a more perpetual, finely grained, and more inescapable tyranny of the strong and ruthless over the weak and compassionate than almost any that has ever been managed by government.

AemJeff
06-27-2011, 04:44 PM
i'd say it is the exact opposite. government and law are what protect me from roving bands of psychotic libertarians imposing their will at the point of a sword on peaceful people like me.

the rule of law is what guarantees your freedom, and the government is the tool that perpetuates the rule of law.

I'm sure you imagine yourself at the head of that roving band of lunatics, and so think it is maximum freedom. But its just a more perpetual, finely grained, and more inescapable tyranny of the strong and ruthless over the weak and compassionate than almost any that has ever been managed by government.

Yup, for all the talk about how much philosophy Libertarians claim to read, they really don't seem to know their Hobbes.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 04:52 PM
Of course this is on a sliding scale, but I think you've just asserted an all or nothing proposition and then struck it down?

Not at all. I'm responding to argumentation along the lines of "I'm against government intervention." Presumably we all think there is government intervention that is warranted and that which is not, so rather than some silly "I'm for freedom!" stance, let's focus on the specifics of the disagreement, whatever it happens to be.

For example, tort law is ruining the country is a silly and overly general statement, and one that has nothing to do with any perceived increase in the size of government. The principles at issue are from the common law, not newly-passed (or even older) statutes, and in particular not Congress.

DEA is under DOJ. First thing i'd kill. Obliterate it.

That's no basis to kill DOJ entirely, which is what you said originally. This gets back to my point about specificity being needed.

Of course, rather than kill the enforcement agency, it makes more sense to modify the laws. Just not enforcing laws which remain on the books is rarely a good way to go about it.

Let the states handle their crappy education.

That's the question to be discussed -- is there anything to be gained by having the feds play a role?

I'm not sure if you're trying to misconstrue my words on purpose or just genuinely misreading. If government is justified, then there's no reason to privatize it.

I don't see how this is different than what I said. It also has nothing to do with my original point about common law vs. statutes.

In other words, if we need it, we won't be having to walk down your libertarian nightmare.

I have no such nightmare.

My problem with fundamentalist libertarian types is that they tend to elevate libertarian explanations into a faith. Privatization is better because it just is. I'm perfectly willing to discuss the pros and cons of various approaches to specific issues and think that in many cases non-intervention (or intervention short of government mandates) is best.

Let me clarify. On the one hand, I'd have to intervene and gut the status quo. So, I'd have a bigger effect on the status quo than you would. However, government and law are by definition interventions in freedom. I would be removing them.

Re tort reform, it's more than this. We have traditional remedies that you would be getting rid of. You are basically creating new law to say that you can't invoke those remedies. It's not conservative. But I'd never expect a libertarian to be conservative.

Libertarians get all inconsistent here, however, when they want to argue that we don't need law, because we have contracts. But contract law (and enforcement) are just as based on common law as tort law is.

With doctors, I'd like an assumption of risk by the patient.

Meaning what?

This lowers malpractice litigation, which lowers malpractice insurance, which lowers medical care costs.

Assuming you mean something short of getting rid of malpractice, then it doesn't in a significant way, since it's really easy to plead negligence, and there's a risk when you have a jury. You'd need to get much more into the weeds in terms of what requirements one has for experts, for pleading a claim, so on, and this raises questions -- questions conservatives usually are the ones to raise in other contexts -- about why the legislature is the right one to properly figure out all the implications and weigh the costs, rather than our traditional common law way of addressing these questions.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 04:55 PM
Yup, for all the talk about how much philosophy Libertarians claim to read, they really don't seem to know their Hobbes.

We were talking about Pynchon in another thread, and he wins points from me for creating the best lawfirm name ever, Saltieri, Poore, Nash, De Brutus & Short.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 05:16 PM
For example, tort law is ruining the country is a silly and overly general statement
Surely, you don't think I'd do away with all tort law. Then why set up the strawman.


That's no basis to kill DOJ entirely, which is what you said originally. This gets back to my point about specificity being needed.
I did not say this. Justification. If yes, it stays. If not, it's gutted.



That's the question to be discussed -- is there anything to be gained by having the feds play a role?
That's not a question I need to answer. That's for proponents of big government to answer.


My problem with fundamentalist libertarian types is that they tend to elevate libertarian explanations into a faith. Privatization is better because it just is.
You keep complaining to me about a position that I don't believe in. You need to picket in front of operative's house. Oh wait, you don't. No one takes libertarians seriously, anyway.


Libertarians get all inconsistent here, however, when they want to argue that we don't need law, because we have contracts. But contract law (and enforcement) are just as based on common law as tort law is.
This is a weird abstraction that I've never claimed. I'm all for engaging, but I'd appreciate it if you addressed specific things that I've proposed.

Negligence law is precisely the problem. I'd sooner have tougher, easy to comply with, clear statutes as opposed to nuanced, hard to predict case law. If a few patients don't get justice, too fucking bad. It's not worth destroying care for everyone else.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 05:23 PM
Re tort reform, it's more than this. We have traditional remedies that you would be getting rid of. You are basically creating new law to say that you can't invoke those remedies. It's not conservative. But I'd never expect a libertarian to be conservative.

Beyond this, and the point I forgot to make, your initial comment was that "tort law" was ruining the country. Your solution seems to be changing the elements of one narrow type of tort law, not getting rid of tort law. So again this shows a contrast between the extreme rhetoric used and the actual change sought which is a much smaller one (in intent, anyway) and one that seems to acknowledge the need for what currently exists in its essence, while arguing over the details.

My point has generally been that the real arguments between reasonable people are only on the details, so let's drop the rhetorical posturing and talk about them.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 05:28 PM
Surely, you don't think I'd do away with all tort law. Then why set up the strawman.

You set it up. I think the reason RWers do this (and you are using RW rhetorical strategies here) is because it's easier to argue about generalities than admit that we agree on the problems and the reason we end up with injustices sometimes is that there are always tradeoffs of any law or change of law.

Negligence law is precisely the problem. I'd sooner have tougher, easy to comply with, clear statutes as opposed to nuanced, hard to predict case law.

This is a radical position, one few conservatives, who tend to prefer the common law to statutes, would agree with. But the French would probably like it.

In that I don't see a constiuency for your "replace negligence with statutes" position and think it's a hell of a lot harder than you've given credit for -- negligence is relevant to a lot more than malpractice -- I don't see who is supposed to be debating this. It bears no resemblance to any likely tort reform plan, so certainly can't be defined as a liberal vs. conservative difference or anyone vs. libertarian one.

If a few patients don't get justice, too fucking bad. It's not worth destroying care for everyone else.

Talk about strawmen. That was never the objection. As it is no one assumes that everyone gets justice.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 05:32 PM
That's not a question I need to answer.

If you want me to change the law, you need to give me a reason why it does more good than harm. Saving money would be a good.

Your use of the term "big government proponent" is the kind of general, fun to employ, but generally meaningless rhetoric I've been complaining about. Right now I'm merely being a conservative.

AemJeff
06-27-2011, 05:45 PM
We were talking about Pynchon in another thread, and he wins points from me for creating the best lawfirm name ever, Saltieri, Poore, Nash, De Brutus & Short.

Heh! That reminds me I never finished Gravity's Rainbow.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 06:19 PM
Your use of the term "big government proponent" is the kind of general, fun to employ, but generally meaningless rhetoric I've been complaining about. Right now I'm merely being a conservative.

Here's the difference. You're advocating the status quo. To me, that's big government. If you don't think that the current system is big government relative to what we've had in the past, that's just wrong on its face. If you don't think government is big compared to Europe, then I'd agree. But if it's the latter, there's no reason for Democrats to balk at the charge that they want us to become European socialists.

When you setup on multiple occasions that I want to completely eliminate government, that's a strawman. I've never said it and I'm not going to defend arguments I never made and positions that I don't hold.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 06:30 PM
Here's the difference. You're advocating the status quo. To me, that's big government. If you don't think that the current system is big government relative to what we've had in the past, that's just wrong on its face.

We are talking about tort law. The aspects of tort law you've talked about changing are not -- not -- "bigger" or different than in the past. Changing them to replace them with a statute spelling out penalties and remedies and so on probably would make the government bigger, as normally understood.

This is just one illustration of why a discussion of these issues that focuses on "government" generally and not specifics makes little sense. I get the rhetorical reasons you want to, but I'm not buying into it.

But if it's the latter, there's no reason for Democrats to balk at the charge that they want us to become European socialists.

Except that a lot of what we want are supported by the conservatives in Europe, not merely social democrats. Plus, you know as well as I do that "socialist" (and it's usual companion in such rhetoric, "Marxist") isn't tossed around as an accusation by the ilk who toss it around to make us think of Western Europe. It's tossed around to make us think of Soviet Russia. Or North Korea.

When you setup on multiple occasions that I want to completely eliminate government, that's a strawman.

I never said that. I called you on using careless and overstated language. I've been assuming that you don't want to eliminate government. As I said, I think our real arguments are about the details and you are the one refusing to concede that, since you prefer the easy rhetorical slam on government or tort law or whatever.

operative
06-27-2011, 06:33 PM
Except that a lot of what we want are supported by the conservatives in Europe, not merely social democrats. Plus, you know as well as I do that "socialist" (and it's usual companion in such rhetoric, "Marxist") isn't tossed around as an accusation by the ilk who toss it around to make us think of Western Europe. It's tossed around to make us think of Soviet Russia. Or North Korea.


I'd say Hugo Chavez more than anyone.

There's a pretty significant segment of Dems who openly embrace leftist authoritarians, something which there is no parallel to on the right. I'd be concerned, if I were you, that if the Democrats move further left, more of these proto-tyrants will gain a bigger voice in the party.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 06:33 PM
the rule of law is what guarantees your freedom, and the government is the tool that perpetuates the rule of law.


And where does the rule of law get its power? The government? Then where does government get its power? And whoever said something about Hobbes, Leviathan exists because we give up a tiny bit of our natural freedom, i.e., the ability to kill one another at will, in exchange for being able to sleep at night while not having to worry about being murdered.

Oh, I'm sorry. Or did I not read Hobbes?

North Korea has rules and it also has a government that is the tool that perpetuates the rule of their law. Can you guess how we're different?

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 06:36 PM
We are talking about tort law.
Stick to the issue. We are talking about whatever I quoted.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 06:39 PM
See post 80 and following.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 06:41 PM
this is what I said:
Negligence law is precisely the problem. I'd sooner have tougher, easy to comply with, clear statutes as opposed to nuanced, hard to predict case law. If a few patients don't get justice, too fucking bad. It's not worth destroying care for everyone else.


Talk about strawmen. That was never the objection. As it is no one assumes that everyone gets justice.

This was my proposal; I was not imputing it to you. I was saying that if we do it my way, it would result in a few people not getting justice, but it would make the system a lot easier to comply with and reduce costs for everyone.

You're either purposely misreading or just not comprehending. Either way, I no longer see the point.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 06:54 PM
This was my proposal; I was not imputing it to you. I was saying that if we do it my way, it would result in a few people not getting justice, but it would make the system a lot easier to comply with and reduce costs for everyone.

Yes. Maybe you don't mean to, but your "a few people might not get justice, too bad" comment sounds like you are expecting the argument against your position as "oooh, but then there might be a little bit of unaddressed injustice, and we can't have that." Otherwise, why say it the way you did? Also, I admit I'm influenced here by your assertions elsewhere that liberals supposedly are over-concerned with wanting everything to be fair.

As I said then, and as I said here, life is unfair and unfairness and injustice will happen. My objection is never that there might be some unaddressed unfairness. I'm all for getting rid of injustice when possible, but have no problem acknowledging that there are costs and we have to be concerned with costs and tradeoffs. My objection instead is whether your change would create greater problems than it would solve, which I think it would.

If you were not intended to imply that I would have such an objection, then I indeed misread, although I hardly think my misreading is unrelated to the words you chose, the tone you employed, or your prior and repeated claims about what you assume liberal objections are.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 06:54 PM
Beyond this, and the point I forgot to make, your initial comment was that "tort law" was ruining the country. Your solution seems to be changing the elements of one narrow type of tort law, not getting rid of tort law.

I don't understand this nitpicking. Did you honestly think I wanted to do away with common law false imprisonment and battery? Give me a fucking break. You know damn well I was talking about negligence, malpractice, strict liability and other crap that cranky right wingers talk about.

Other than a few of our heated exchanges in the very beginning, I think I've been pretty fair to you overall. I've been quick to admit where I failed to read closely and I granted you benefit of the doubt. In any event, I think I've provided enough evidence of where you continually fail to read or understand.

Now, I have things to do. I'll be back later if you actually want to discuss what I said and discuss actual positions that I hold.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 06:57 PM
I don't understand this nitpicking. Did you honestly think I wanted to do away with common law false imprisonment and battery? Give me a fucking break. You know damn well I was talking about negligence, malpractice, strict liability and other crap that cranky right wingers talk about.

You said it, not me. Besides, negligence is relevant to a lot more than medical malpractice. We don't have to get into battery. The UCC is bad enough, trying to replace all common law with statutes just seems like a nightmare, and not a conservative project.

sugarkang
06-27-2011, 07:00 PM
You said it, not me.

Really, stephanie? When conservatives say "tort reform" they're talking about common law false imprisonment? Really? It's my fault you misunderstood? Really? I'm having doubts about thinking of you as a reasonable person.

stephanie
06-27-2011, 07:11 PM
Really, stephanie? When conservatives say "tort reform" they're talking about common law false imprisonment? Really? It's my fault you misunderstood? Really? I'm having doubts about thinking of you as a reasonable person.

Read back through the discussion.

You brought up tort law ruining the country, as a supposed example of government being too large.

I said that's funny you should mention that, because tort law is an example of conservative principles -- the common law -- and those who want to do tort reform are using government intervention and statutes to replace the common law. This demonstrates, btw, that I am assuming, despite your extremist rhetoric, that you really are just arguing in favor of some sort of statutory change to tort law.

I then said I'm generally in favor of tort reform but it's hard to find a good way to do it that would address the concerns. Again, my point is that it's a lot easier to talk in generalities about the existing problems then come up with a workable way of modifying the existing law. That's my problem, not some failure to see that the current system is imperfect or imposes costs I'd rather not impose. (I could go on and on about the problems with our current justice system, especially for civil defendants.)

You said you want to have patients assume risk and then started talking about replacing negligence with statutes. This was supposed to be limited to med mal cases, I assume.

I talked about some of the problems with this plus how there's no constituency for it and it's not conservative.

You seem to have gotten annoyed and started talking about how you never said there should be no law. But no one ever said you said that. My point has been that you can easily say that "tort law is the problem," but then when we get to the specifics your concerns and mine are probably not so different, it's hard to figure out how to address your concerns without creating more problems, and your proposed solution -- replacing a small portion of tort law with statutes -- neither supports your rhetorical claim about tort law nor seems to be less big government than the current situation. In fact, seems to me that it would be increasing government, if government is to be measured -- as Herman Cain would have it -- by the number and length of statutes.

eeeeeeeli
06-28-2011, 10:50 AM
If you look at the link I posted, it's an all black charter school in the south-side (aka bad neighborhood) of Chicago. All male, meaning high propensity toward incarceration, impoverished in money terms and human capital terms, so, disadvantaged in every way. This is the second year in a row that they've sent all of their students to four year colleges.
I'm always skeptical about these stories because they are often difficult to verify. In other words, just going from the news stories, which are almost always terribly ignorant of the many factors that go into education, it's hard to get all the facts. That said, great things do indeed happen. Of course, they happen at public schools too. Much of what goes into success at poor school is often a synchronicity of school culture, good leadership, good staff, good organization, etc. But just because these occasionally happens, it doesn't mean it is a model that can be replicated. (Back to my analogy about giving soldiers resources if we want them all to succeed).

So, the first thing I always look at is selection; is it the case that certain types of families are being drawn to this school? Not all poor, black males have the same levels of social capital. I've taught many poor students at regular high school who simply refuse to show up to class, complete their homework, or even do work in class. When you call home, often times the parent simply says they don't know what to do.

From one story (http://www.urbanprep.org/file.asp?F=Chicago_Sun_Times_01-08-07.pdf&N=Chicago_Sun_Times_01-08-07.pdf&C=news), Tim King, the head of the school:
Fortunately, King said, his students come from stronger families -- the kind of families that are smart and committed enough to enroll a son at Urban Prep.

I'm trying to find articles asking or answering skeptical questions about the school but there seem to be very few. Everyone seems to think it's some kind of miracle - proof that poor black kids can be educated! Yet what exactly are they doing different than other schools - many of whom have longer hours, strict dress codes or disciplines, yet have have been found on average to be marginally more successful at best.

Diane Ravitch's recent piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/01/opinion/01ravitch.html) in the Times critized the hype around a few of these seemingly to-good-to-be-true school success stories.
Gary Rubinstein, an education blogger and Teach for America alumnus who has been critical of the program, checked Mr. Duncan’s claims about Urban Prep. Of 166 students who entered as ninth graders, only 107 graduated. Astonishingly, the state Web site (http://iirc.niu.edu/School.aspx?schoolID=15016299025010C) showed that only 17 percent passed state tests, compared to 64 percent in the low-performing Chicago public school district.

My main skepticism in all this is not that educating the poor can't be done. But that it is incredibly hard, there are no easy answers, and - and maybe this my biggest concern - that if we fool ourselves into chasing after false-solutions - we are wasting time and resources that could be better spent looking for real, lasting solutions. I don't pretend to have the answers. But the history of education is rife with miracle stories that turn out to have been little more than wishful thinking, often peddled by some or another politician or advocate eager to sell the public on his particular brand of ideological magic.

Last thought: talk to anyone involve din educating the poor (all the poor, not just those with the highest social capital) at the ground level, and they will tell you the biggest problem is the student's family. How do we attack that problem? I have some ideas. But they are based on small-scale studies and projects. I'm not sure how scalable or effective they'd really be. But I'm convinced that's the key to closing the achievement gap.

sugarkang
06-28-2011, 11:21 AM
But I'm convinced that's the key to closing the achievement gap.

eeeeeeeli, even if you have the answer, I don't. We won't know unless we allow experimentation and innovation to occur. We can't try unless we let charters happen. Teachers' unions are blocking charter schools from taking root.

It really is that simple. Unions block experimentation.

popcorn_karate
06-28-2011, 02:53 PM
And where does the rule of law get its power? The government? Then where does government get its power? And whoever said something about Hobbes, Leviathan exists because we give up a tiny bit of our natural freedom, i.e., the ability to kill one another at will, in exchange for being able to sleep at night while not having to worry about being murdered.


so when you state:

However, government and law are by definition interventions in freedom.

you could just as easily state: "government and law are the primary guarantors of freedom"

------

The state can both rob you of your freedom and be its primary guarantor. This means that you have to make your case for dismantling the state just as much as i need to make mine for expanding it. This is the essential blindness that you betray in pretty much every one of your posts.

popcorn_karate
06-28-2011, 03:04 PM
I don't understand this nitpicking. Did you honestly think I wanted to do away with common law false imprisonment and battery? Give me a fucking break. You know damn well I was talking about negligence, malpractice, strict liability and other crap that cranky right wingers talk about.


dude, just admit that you didn't really know what tort law meant and you were talking out of your ass. then you could get on with a real discussion. no big deal.

sugarkang
06-28-2011, 03:08 PM
dude, just admit that you didn't really know what tort law meant and you were talking out of your ass. then you could get on with a real discussion. no big deal.

I only wonder if stephanie thinks letting false ideas float around is justified in the interests of team building.

popcorn_karate
06-28-2011, 03:10 PM
I only wonder if stephanie thinks letting false ideas float around is justified in the interests of team building.

so you are willing to explain how replacing tort law with government regulation constitutes smaller government? go ahead, i'm interested.

eeeeeeeli
06-28-2011, 07:29 PM
eeeeeeeli, even if you have the answer, I don't. We won't know unless we allow experimentation and innovation to occur. We can't try unless we let charters happen. Teachers' unions are blocking charter schools from taking root.

It really is that simple. Unions block experimentation.
Meh, barely. What you lose in taking a blunt stick to whatever obstacles they might put up costs teachers and education much more in the end. I'm all for experimentation, just not the stupid kind, especially when it takes away from efforts at real reform.[edit: I'm a big proponent of experimentation. The status quo completely sucks. But the kind of experimentation I would support likely would meet very little resistance from unions. No surprise, I don't start with the assumption that teachers are the problem, or that we need to ask even more of them. I think that's simply wrong, and a misunderstanding of the real problems we face]. Unions are the only thing standing in the way of complete devaluation and debasement of teachers right now.

To keep going back to the war analogy, experiment all you want, but make sure the troops are well-supplied and protected - certainly before you start blaming them for losing the battle.

chiwhisoxx
06-28-2011, 08:58 PM
Yup, for all the talk about how much philosophy Libertarians claim to read, they really don't seem to know their Hobbes.

the fact that you think people interested in philosophy are supposed to take Hobbes very seriously makes your point rather ironic. the purpose of reading Hobbes is only as a foil and to set up Locke and state of nature thinkers; no one takes the Leviathan as a useful work at face value.

AemJeff
06-28-2011, 09:44 PM
the fact that you think people interested in philosophy are supposed to take Hobbes very seriously makes your point rather ironic. the purpose of reading Hobbes is only as a foil and to set up Locke and state of nature thinkers; no one takes the Leviathan as a useful work at face value.

I'm not recommending that anybody read Leviathan. It was a shot at a particular kind of pretentiousness (of which we seem to be wallowing in a surplus, at the moment) and an allusion to the bargain we all make, regardless of how "Libertarian" we claim to be. There's a hell of lot more liberty available to anyone living in a modern democracy (with all of its evident flaws) than in any other imaginable state of affairs. The alternatives are North Korea at one extreme, and the war of all against all at the other. Either way: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

I am glad you're both interested in philosophy and wise to the "purpose" of reading Hobbes.

sugarkang
06-28-2011, 10:46 PM
The alternatives are North Korea at one extreme, and the war of all against all at the other. Either way: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Yeah, uhh, nobody is arguing these extremes as if they would really happen to the United States. But as long as you've mentioned N. Korea, that's a real life example of altruism forced upon a citizenry vs. the evil, self-interested capitalists of S. Korea whose poorest are better off than even the supposed upper-class of the N. Korean military.

Same exact people, different ideology and different political systems.

sugarkang
06-28-2011, 10:48 PM
No surprise, I don't start with the assumption that teachers are the problem, or that we need to ask even more of them.

I don't think we need to ask more of public school teachers, either. But do you think it's okay for public school unions to block charter schools from forming in the first place? Because that's what they did in New York.

sugarkang
06-28-2011, 10:56 PM
you could just as easily state: "government and law are the primary guarantors of freedom"

------

The state can both rob you of your freedom and be its primary guarantor. This means that you have to make your case for dismantling the state just as much as i need to make mine for expanding it. This is the essential blindness that you betray in pretty much every one of your posts.

Once you give up your "natural" freedom, then yes, government is there to enforce the new restricted freedom against anyone who would break the social contract.

Okay, if you want more government vote for it. But say that you like big government. Just be open about it. I've made it clear that government needs to be smaller and it should start by letting itself be open to competition.

eeeeeeeli
06-28-2011, 11:29 PM
I don't think we need to ask more of public school teachers, either. But do you think it's okay for public school unions to block charter schools from forming in the first place? Because that's what they did in New York.
I'm not familiar with the situation. I could see there being good reasons why they might oppose certain charter structures, certainly if such as a perception that they are undermining union contracts. But I could also see people being stubborn and unwilling to take risks.

Like I said - on the face of it, I'm not opposed to charters at all. My daughter attends one, I used to work at one, and I used to want to start my own. I think they can be great, or terrible. In the end, I don't think they represent a model that is really capable of doing much more than we've been seeing public schools do for decades - and that's not so good! Then, of course I have a lot of concerns about negative effects that might come with the embrace of certain of their models - certainly those that are really doing little more than circumventing unions, dodging transparency or equal access for students, or in the worst cases exploiting students for pure profit.

operative
06-28-2011, 11:35 PM
I'm not familiar with the situation. I could see there being good reasons why they might oppose certain charter structures, certainly if such as a perception that they are undermining union contracts. But I could also see people being stubborn and unwilling to take risks.

Like I said - on the face of it, I'm not opposed to charters at all. My daughter attends one, I used to work at one, and I used to want to start my own. I think they can be great, or terrible. In the end, I don't think they represent a model that is really capable of doing much more than we've been seeing public schools do for decades - and that's not so good! Then, of course I have a lot of concerns about negative effects that might come with the embrace of certain of their models - certainly those that are really doing little more than circumventing unions, dodging transparency or equal access for students, or in the worst cases exploiting students for pure profit.

Should we ban pharmaceutical companies because of the unethical behavior of a few? Universities because of a few unethical players? Etc.

There is no way to improve education but to allow for innovation and experimentation through the market system. That is the only way.

Moreover, in time schools will move toward specialization. Right now schools operate as state-run Walmarts, trying to do everything and not doing anything particularly well. By high school a student's capacity is generally very clear. Specialization would allow those of less academic aptitude to move into a trade occupation, and those with greater academic aptitude to be in a better setting. Kids could hone their strengths instead of being put in a one-size-fits-all processor.

sugarkang
06-29-2011, 12:11 AM
Like I said - on the face of it, I'm not opposed to charters at all.

Then we have no disagreement. Public schoolteachers should get whatever they're entitled to in their contracts, but they should not obstruct charter school formation. This is where we shake hands.

stephanie
06-29-2011, 10:45 AM
I'm not recommending that anybody read Leviathan.

I would. Certainly, it's odd to bemoan the state of a world in which too few people read Nozick and not think it's a shame if more don't read Hobbes.

The notion that Hobbes is unimportant (or important only as background for Locke) merely because no one agrees with his conclusions is also odd and seems to show a lack of understanding of how students grapple with philosophy, to paraphrase what someone once said.

The tone, in case it's not obvious, is somewhat joking, but I'm serious about the underlying point.

operative
06-29-2011, 10:49 AM
I would. Certainly, it's odd to bemoan the state of a world in which too few people read Nozick and not think it's a shame if more don't read Hobbes.

The notion that Hobbes is unimportant (or important only as background for Locke) merely because no one agrees with his conclusions is also odd and seems to show a lack of understanding of how students grapple with philosophy, to paraphrase what someone once said.

The tone, in case it's not obvious, is somewhat joking, but I'm serious about the underlying point.

I agree. Same reason people ought to read Marx--dead wrong in the ideas department (Marx could've hardly gotten his predictions more wrong if he tried), but undeniably very important. Part of being informed is reading that which you don't agree with along with what you do agree with.

sugarkang
06-29-2011, 01:28 PM
I agree. Same reason people ought to read Marx--dead wrong in the ideas department (Marx could've hardly gotten his predictions more wrong if he tried), but undeniably very important. Part of being informed is reading that which you don't agree with along with what you do agree with.

Also agree. There's too much of this "everybody knows this to be true" type of thinking. It's so ironic, then, to think that people could be so closed minded in 2011. Read Marx, then read Hayek.

popcorn_karate
06-29-2011, 01:31 PM
Once you give up your "natural" freedom, then yes, government is there to enforce the new restricted freedom against anyone who would break the social contract.

yes, you think you would be the top dog, i think i'd take your shit and rape your wife and enslave your kids because you're a little bitch. nice bit o' freedom ya got there son...

Okay, if you want more government vote for it.

that is not what i said. I said that I value government to the extent that it expands and protects my freedom. Your statement that all government reduces freedom is incorrect as i pointed out.


But say that you like big government. Just be open about it.

i don't value government for its size, but for its freedom enhancing properties. the size is a result of decisions, not a decision making factor. you have to be incredibly simple minded to think some abstract idea of "size" is a reasonable way to evaluate government. an efficiently run, smallish authoritarian state that doesn't do anything to protect your freedom but has the means to extract your wealth is possible and undesirable.


I've made it clear that government needs to be smaller and it should start by letting itself be open to competition.

you've definitely made it clear that you have an opinion. you have yet to make a reasonable argument for why anybody should care about that opinion.

sugarkang
06-29-2011, 01:35 PM
yes, you think you would be the top dog, i think i'd take your shit and rape your wife and enslave your kids because you're a little bitch. nice bit o' freedom ya got there son...

I know you would. I wonder how these kinds of things happen in real life and how some people think it justified to do nothing. Hmmm...

popcorn_karate
06-29-2011, 01:37 PM
I know you would. I wonder how these kinds of things happen in real life and how some people think it justified to do nothing. Hmmm...

pretty sure you missed the point again. oh well.

sugarkang
06-29-2011, 01:50 PM
pretty sure you missed the point again. oh well.

No, I was being snarky. I actually did understand your point, but if you haven't understood mine, then it's because we have different ideas of what "is" is. Frankly, I'm tired and I have things to do.

uncle ebeneezer
06-29-2011, 02:14 PM
i don't value government for its size, but for its freedom enhancing properties. the size is a result of decisions, not a decision making factor. you have to be incredibly simple minded to think some abstract idea of "size" is a reasonable way to evaluate government.

Thank you, PK, for that. Though it has been explained a bajillion times that most of us non-libertarians endorse government action based on effectiveness not size, it's much easier to (dishonestly) claim that all we want is BIG GOVERNMENT!1!! I don't know that the distinction will ever be accepted by those on the other side.

sugarkang
06-29-2011, 02:20 PM
... most of us non-libertarians endorse government action based on effectiveness not size ...

Department of Education?
Drug Enforcement Agency?
United States Postal Service?

Please explain why we need them.

eeeeeeeli
06-30-2011, 10:28 AM
"... most of us non-libertarians endorse government action based on effectiveness not size ..."

Department of Education?
Drug Enforcement Agency?
United States Postal Service?

Please explain why we need them.

You didn't acknowledge his point. Obviously any area of government is debatable. But the question is not whether to have bigger or smaller government, it is the best way to solve a problem.

If you're arguing that these are only expressions of the desire for "big government", as opposed to a proposal for effective solutions to perceived problems, I could give you plenty examples of areas of life in which most on the left wouldn't want government. (i.e. Country Club Protection Agency)

Likewise, I could give you plenty of examples of areas of government that most on the right would like to see reduced. Is it because they just want smaller government, or because they have reasons for believing that it would solve the problem better (if a problem even exists)?

Whether someone likes or doesn't like big or small government seems a complete waste of time to discuss. Maybe people get stuck in a tendency to see small-government or big-government solutions - it is a likely bias. But the solution is still to look at each problem and discuss the best way to approach it. Arguing that the proposal for more/less government is simply a result of cognitive bias, and therefor the proposed solution is wrong is an ad hominem fallacy; i..e those are two separate questions - one psycho-ideological, one practical.

sugarkang
06-30-2011, 11:07 AM
You didn't acknowledge his point. Obviously any area of government is debatable. But the question is not whether to have bigger or smaller government, it is the best way to solve a problem.
I actually agree with you on this. I'd like a big government War on Drugs policy. So, if a solution takes bigger government, I'm open to it. I just want the proper case to be made. Also, if the private sector wants to compete against current government services, I think that should be allowed as well.


Likewise, I could give you plenty of examples of areas of government that most on the right would like to see reduced. Is it because they just want smaller government, or because they have reasons for believing that it would solve the problem better (if a problem even exists)?
It's even simpler. We have no money. When you have no money, it's not a question of what you want.


Whether someone likes or doesn't like big or small government seems a complete waste of time to discuss. Maybe people get stuck in a tendency to see small-government or big-government solutions - it is a likely bias.
Even if it's about arithmetic? Am I overly ideological? Do you think me to be unfair based on our past exchanges?

eeeeeeeli
07-01-2011, 12:18 AM
It's even simpler. We have no money. When you have no money, it's not a question of what you want.


Even if it's about arithmetic? Am I overly ideological? Do you think me to be unfair based on our past exchanges?

I think that's a perfectly fair question, but one that also cuts into ideological assumptions to a degree. There is obviously going to be a point where things are too expensive. But then there's everywhere else. So, assuming you're only trying to fund important spending (mind you, like most liberals - and not conservatives - I'm quite small government when it comes to the military), you want to increase taxes. Progressive taxation says you can justify much higher rates on the wealthy than we currently see.

You can then argue supply side, at which point I'm, well... very uncomfortable - as I think most people should be. The fact is that we kind of don't know what that productive spot is between taxes and growth.

So you get into arguing programs on the merits, trying to keep in mind that we don't have unlimited funds, yet we may/may not be able to tax a good deal more.

Personally, I lean pretty heavily on the notion that most wealth has been earned by the graces of society, as has most poverty. So it is easy for me to see fairness in a progressive system in which programs are provided that try and balance out some of the systemic inequities, such as access to health care, education, etc. I see big dividends in what I would call social investment - that which increases human/social capital.

Back to your first point: if we spent half the money we do on the war on drugs instead on simply creating safe places for addicts to receive treatment, we would likely at least make it back in reduced prison costs, as well as increased social liberties.

sugarkang
07-03-2011, 11:16 PM
So, assuming you're only trying to fund important spending (mind you, like most liberals - and not conservatives - I'm quite small government when it comes to the military), you want to increase taxes. Progressive taxation says you can justify much higher rates on the wealthy than we currently see.
We're probably closer on issues than you realize. I don't mind big government, theoretically, if it's shown that it's the only way. I also want to slash military spending like you do. I'm also willing to increase taxes on the wealthy as it is pragmatically necessary, regardless of whether or not I feel that redistribution is "justice."


You can then argue supply side, at which point I'm, well... very uncomfortable - as I think most people should be. I'm not a supply sider. Those people need to be reprogrammed through torture (joke). Go ahead. Take me out of context, graz.


Personally, I lean pretty heavily on the notion that most wealth has been earned by the graces of society, as has most poverty. So it is easy for me to see fairness in a progressive system in which programs are provided that try and balance out some of the systemic inequities, such as access to health care, education, etc. I see big dividends in what I would call social investment - that which increases human/social capital.

I had the John Rawls discussion with you, didn't I? I think Rawls is compelling, just not the final answer. So, I largely agree with you, but it's more a question of degrees, how much, what works, are you willing to change the status quo and break government monopoly?


Back to your first point: if we spent half the money we do on the war on drugs instead on simply creating safe places for addicts to receive treatment, we would likely at least make it back in reduced prison costs, as well as increased social liberties.

I have an entirely different, very radical solution to this (detailed in another thread). The short answer is that I want government to take over the entire black market drug trade. Take monopoly power over an unfortunate reality to destroy the drug cartels. All money earned should be used to fix the problems that it causes. Surplus should be used for government purposes to benefit all.

eeeeeeeli
07-04-2011, 11:09 AM
I have an entirely different, very radical solution to this (detailed in another thread). The short answer is that I want government to take over the entire black market drug trade. Take monopoly power over an unfortunate reality to destroy the drug cartels. All money earned should be used to fix the problems that it causes. Surplus should be used for government purposes to benefit all.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Drugs indeed cause a lot of social problems, and legalizing them is going to likely going to cause at least some marginal increase in usage.

But they are also going to always be used regardless. So the illegality drives up prices, drives violence, etc. I think a limited regulation model makes sense that treats abuse as a disease, and pays for treatment with revenues, while allowing casual users the freedom to do as they please.

I do wonder, however, how hard drugs would be handled. Because it seems that as far as the illegality of crack, meth or oxy keeps people from using them, making them legal would allow for more addiction, which then is an expensive problem to deal with (in terms of lost productivity, social ill, etc.)

Of course, this downside must be weighed against the vast expense of the war on drugs (both in real dollars as well as social costs - broken famlies, violence, etc.). So I suppose it is a choice between two bad options, with our present course being much worse.

But here's a question, what would communities look like if we legalized drugs tomorrow? Is it something that can be done overnight, or should there be a more gradual ramping-up of regulation and government response (regulated dealers, clinics, etc.)? Seems what they're doing in Vancouver, BC is a good start, allowing addicts a safe place to use. However, as far as I know they aren't doing much regulation on the supply end of things - where so much of the negative elements resides.

Ocean
07-04-2011, 11:37 AM
And who will be taking on the responsibility of prescribing, supplying or administering the poisons? Federal workers? Will there be contracts that release such officials from legal responsibility for the harm and deaths caused by drug use?

There will always be a black market. They will sell to underage, or to those who wouldn't qualify for legal or health reasons to receive substances directly from the authorized sources.

Disaster, it doesn't matter how you look at it.

Some researchers are trying to develop vaccines to prevent addictions or facilitate recovery by neutralizing the effects of some drugs. It may not work for all drugs, but something like that would be promising. A society that's immune to addictions.

operative
07-04-2011, 12:54 PM
This makes a lot of sense to me. Drugs indeed cause a lot of social problems, and legalizing them is going to likely going to cause at least some marginal increase in usage.

Actually Portugal found that when they decriminalized narcotics, abuse rates dropped. It's not the first time something of the sort happened. Check out the Economics of Prohibition: http://mises.org/books/prohibition.pdf

That's why the government doesn't need to monopolize or for that matter hardly be involved at all.

I do wonder, however, how hard drugs would be handled. Because it seems that as far as the illegality of crack, meth or oxy keeps people from using them, making them legal would allow for more addiction, which then is an expensive problem to deal with (in terms of lost productivity, social ill, etc.)

Do you not use meth because it's illegal?


But here's a question, what would communities look like if we legalized drugs tomorrow?

The same as they do today, only with more efficient police work, less crime, less powerful gangs, etc.

sugarkang
07-04-2011, 01:21 PM
But here's a question, what would communities look like if we legalized drugs tomorrow? Is it something that can be done overnight, or should there be a more gradual ramping-up of regulation and government response (regulated dealers, clinics, etc.)? Seems what they're doing in Vancouver, BC is a good start, allowing addicts a safe place to use. However, as far as I know they aren't doing much regulation on the supply end of things - where so much of the negative elements resides.

We could always look at the bits of empirical data we have. Portugal looks good, but of course, anyone with a contrary interest (prison industry, police officers) will cast doubt.

We won't know unless we try. I think this is the case for government to regulate and sell just under black market equilibrium. We could contemporaneously direct people to ineffective rehabilitation centers as well to satisfy people's guilt.

Ocean
07-04-2011, 01:41 PM
We could always look at the bits of empirical data we have. Portugal looks good, but of course, anyone with a contrary interest (prison industry, police officers) will cast doubt.

We won't know unless we try. I think this is the case for government to regulate and sell just under black market equilibrium. We could contemporaneously direct people to ineffective rehabilitation centers as well to satisfy people's guilt.

Portugal decriminalized drugs. They didn't legalize them.

When you look at empirical data you need to make sure you're looking at the right kind of data. How comparable is Portugal to the US? It's like your comparisons with Japan and Finland regarding education.

The US is a very large and complex country. There are groups that are more likely to be affected when you talk about legalizing drugs and that's without starting to discuss the logistics. Decriminalization seems a more reasonable start.

eeeeeeeli
07-05-2011, 12:04 PM
Do you not use meth because it's illegal?

Mind you, I said "as far as the illegality of crack, meth or oxy keeps people from using them...".

I don't know whether this is true, or to what extent it might be. My guess is that it is statistically significant. Maybe an increase of a couple of percentage points at least. Those are real people becoming addicts.

Now, like I said, this is of course balanced by the negatives of criminalization. I'm just asking questions.

Sugarkang, do you really doubt the efficacy of treatment programs, taking your statement on their efficacy as only being in assuaging liberal guilt? As with most areas of social programs, there's surely a spectrum within which much progress can be made on helping people move from bad situations to good.

operative
07-05-2011, 12:28 PM
Mind you, I said "as far as the illegality of crack, meth or oxy keeps people from using them...".

Yes, but my point was that this is not very far. In fact, I don't think it's far at all. Most people understand that methamphetamine is very harmful and will not use it no matter its legality; those who are inclined to use it will use it in spite of its illegality. In short, the demand curve is fairly inelastic. I think that Portugal proves this (if you think that there is something that makes Portugal different, in terms of demand curves for harmful narcotics, by all means explain).

sugarkang
07-05-2011, 03:59 PM
Sugarkang, do you really doubt the efficacy of treatment programs, taking your statement on their efficacy as only being in assuaging liberal guilt?
Regard treatment efficacy, yes. Now, I'm not trying to shut them down either. But they've been around for decades now and we can hardly say they're a model of success.

On assuaging guilt, I'd say the moral conscience of the voting public informs their voting choices, does it not? If getting legalization approved and getting us on the road to cleaning up inner city ghettos, reducing drug related crime, improving opportunities for the poor, creating a revenue stream for unfunded government programs, then yes, if we need to assuage the guilt of the voters to get it done, I don't see much downside.