Ask a libertarian (me) what they believe.

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I've noticed a lot of misconceptions concerning libertarians and what they believe. Rather than accept what our ideological opponents say we believe, I would appreciate it if anyone on this board would ask me any question they want.

There are a lot of defintions of what libertarians are but I like L. Neil Smith's. There are others. And there are disagreements among liberarians about what does or doesn't constitute force and what does and doesn't constitute consent. But all political movements have disagreements. Liberarians are no different.

"Zero Aggression Principle":

A libertarian is a person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor will a libertarian advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.

Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim.
— L. Neil Smith

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FrankChodorov
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How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

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Dr Mario Kart
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Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

They don't. That is why they are inherently contradictory. Their world view is inherently paradoxical.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

Hi, Frank!

Here is my question for you:

Do you and/or libertarians believe that the U.S. government should prohibit racial and gender discrimination by private employers in the United States?
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Achtfaden
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How do you deal with free rider problems?

ah2
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Given that "no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason what[so]ever" does that mean that any transaction that has an externality effect that negatively effects any third party are now illegal? Who decides that? Who enforces it?

ah2
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Given that the Constitution inherently asks its citizens to forfit some rights to the government (for example, the stipulation that the government does indeed have the right to levy taxes), does that mean that you are in favor of abolishing the United States of America as it currently exists to write a new social contract or some other social arrangement?

ah2
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Who enforces contracts? How do you enforce breeches of contracts without force?

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

Assuming Thom is correct that any successful 3rd party needs to take over one of our 2 parties and he's incorrect that Libertarians are just pot smoking Republicans, would a pure Libertarian Party (by your definition) find it easier to take over the Democrats or the Republicans?

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Laborisgood
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Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

My short answer is that a truly free market would internalize negative externalities. You have to be more specific. Please give me an example of an negative externality.

I am not an economist. I could provide you with links to some articles written by economists who have addressed this problem.

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Quote ah2:

Who enforces contracts? How do you enforce breeches of contracts without force?

Under a system of government, the courts would enforce contracts. Just as they do now. In a stateless society, private courts would compete with each other. Most people want a good outcome to come out of their business dealings. For those who don't , they would be ostracized. Word would get out about who does and doesn't honor their contracts and/or does or doesn't honor the decisions of neutral arbiters.

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FrankChodorov
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Quote ah2:

Given that the Constitution inherently asks its citizens to forfit some rights to the government (for example, the stipulation that the government does indeed have the right to levy taxes), does that mean that you are in favor of abolishing the United States of America as it currently exists to write a new social contract or some other social arrangement?

What do you mean by abolishing the U.S.A?

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Quote Achtfaden:

Hi, Frank!

Here is my question for you:

Do you and/or libertarians believe that the U.S. government should prohibit racial and gender discrimination by private employers in the United States?

No. People have the right to be wrong. They have a right to do with their property as they please as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. However, you have every right to use your property to counter their bigotry by not patronizing their businesses. Anyone who discriminates irrationally will soon find themselves out of business.

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Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ah2:

Given that the Constitution inherently asks its citizens to forfit some rights to the government (for example, the stipulation that the government does indeed have the right to levy taxes), does that mean that you are in favor of abolishing the United States of America as it currently exists to write a new social contract or some other social arrangement?

What do you mean by abolishing the U.S.A?

The constitution establishes the United States of America as a social contractarian Republic under a Federal Government which requires people to be taxed in order to operate. This would be a form of coersion yet you cannot have a government without it unless it is run by people who would volunteer their entire life to doing so and living in poverty as a result. Additionally, the government would have no resources to carry out any of its functions. Thus, I assume since you are against this, you would be in favor of disolving the nation state known as the United States of America and all sovereignty would then lie with individuals or corporations.

ah2
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Quote Laborisgood:

Assuming Thom is correct that any successful 3rd party needs to take over one of our 2 parties and he's incorrect that Libertarians are just pot smoking Republicans, would a pure Libertarian Party (by your definition) find it easier to take over the Democrats or the Republicans?

We first have to distinguish between capital "L" libertarians, those in the party and small "L" libertarians. I don't get involved in Lib. Party Politics but I would have to say that the Republicans would be more likely to dissolve. The Democrats are consistent. They want to control every aspect of your life. The R's only won't to control almost every aspect of your life. There is no need for two identical parties.

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FrankChodorov
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Quote ah2:

How do you deal with free rider problems?

I don't. If someone happens to benefit from something that benefits me, so be it.

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Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ah2:

Who enforces contracts? How do you enforce breeches of contracts without force?

Under a system of government, the courts would enforce contracts. Just as they do now. In a stateless society, private courts would compete with each other. Most people want a good outcome to come out of their business dealings. For those who don't , they would be ostracized. Word would get out about who does and doesn't honor their contracts and/or does or doesn't honor the decisions of neutral arbiters.

And given the propensity for flat earth, unregulated capitalism to erode into an oligarchical system of a small number of multinational corporations who own virtually everything and collude with one another - would it not make sense that they would also own the courts and work together to ensure that they never were charged for their contract breeches or crimes of humanity against others? We already see this even within what you consider to be a highly regulated system and an "independent" judicial system.

When negative selection (that means the options that are provided to you with in are market are limited by what is NOT availablle) limits you to judicial options that are owned BY the companies that you have grievances with, who steps in to ensure justice is served?

What company in their right mind would submit themselves the judicial oversight of another company with a conflict of interest?

Wouldn't any form of judicial oversight be FORCING a company to answer for their actions? Isn't any contract infringement essentially FORCING someone to accept terms that they did not agree to?

ah2
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Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ah2:

How do you deal with free rider problems?

I don't. If someone happens to benefit from something that benefits me, so be it.

You don't understand a free rider problem. When people see a product that has the inherent nature of being able to provide benefits to more people beyond themselves, people will wait around for someone else to purchase it so that they can benefit from it but don't have to pay for it. Result = no one buys it regardless of how important it may be to social functioning because they don't want to be the person who gives everyone else a "free ride". Solution = make it part of the commons and have everyone pay for a portion of it.

What is the Libertarian solution to this, particularly for those things that are absolutely ESSENTIAL for a modern and industrialized society. Example = under your system, who pays to install a traffic light in an urban area like New York city?

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Achtfaden:

Hi, Frank!

Here is my question for you:

Do you and/or libertarians believe that the U.S. government should prohibit racial and gender discrimination by private employers in the United States?

No. People have the right to be wrong. They have a right to do with their property as they please as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. However, you have every right to use your property to counter their bigotry by not patronizing their businesses. Anyone who discriminates irrationally will soon find themselves out of business.

And given places where the de facto racism is so severe as to create an environment where, say, a Muslim American can't buy food, clothes, water, shelter, education, etc?

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

My short answer is that a truly free market would internalize negative externalities. You have to be more specific. Please give me an example of an negative externality.

I am not an economist. I could provide you with links to some articles written by economists who have addressed this problem.

This is an externality:

Party 1 is making and selling a product. Party 2 agrees to purchase said product (lets call this a representation of the agregate demand for that particular product). However, the result of the transaction between Party 1 and Party 2 creates an unintended or unaccounted for effect that is EXTERNAL to the transaction that they were making which negatively effects Party 3.

Example: A company is making plastic bags. You want to buy plastic bags and do so for your own purposes. However, as a result of that transaction, the company dumps the chemicals used to make the plastic into my water supply and when you are finished with the product you throw the bag on the ground and it blows into my yard. Or lets say, even that it is purchased by a seperate company who decides to buy the lot next to my house and decides they are going to turn it intoa landfill. I can't tell them no right? Their property right?

Let's say the company even owns the portion of river that they dump the chemicals into but water has a fundamental "public" nature in that it doesn't stand still. The pollution travels down stream into other properites. It can get into the water table and pollute the water for vast geographical areas.

All of this was the result of a mutually agreed upon transation between you and a company yet it has significant results to those around you that are "external" to the original agreement made between the two of you.

In the current liberalist system, these externality effects are either mitigated by regulations or compensated for by redistributing restitution for damages to those negatively effected. This creates the paradox of your system that I was discussing.

No matter what you do, one of the 3 Parties invovled in this transaction is going to FORCE another party to accept something they don't want.

A completely voluntary system is IMPOSSIBLE because people inherently are 1) interconnected at a fundamental level, yet 2) have conflicting interests.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Laborisgood:

Assuming Thom is correct that any successful 3rd party needs to take over one of our 2 parties and he's incorrect that Libertarians are just pot smoking Republicans, would a pure Libertarian Party (by your definition) find it easier to take over the Democrats or the Republicans?

We first have to distinguish between capital "L" libertarians, those in the party and small "L" libertarians. I don't get involved in Lib. Party Politics but I would have to say that the Republicans would be more likely to dissolve. The Democrats are consistent. They want to control every aspect of your life. The R's only won't to control almost every aspect of your life. There is no need for two identical parties.

If the intent of this thread is about speaking truth to power, how about you knock off the straw man tactics. Democrats by no means what so ever want to contol every aspect of your life. In fact, when it comes down to it. The Democratic Party has been defined by expanding civil liberties to larger numbers of people. ANd the Republicans have proven themselves to be inclined to reach farther into your personal life than the Democrats. Example = Gay Marriage.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:

No. People have the right to be wrong. They have a right to do with their property as they please as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. However, you have every right to use your property to counter their bigotry by not patronizing their businesses. Anyone who discriminates irrationally will soon find themselves out of business.

This is one area where we disagree, Frank. Besides the obvious moral and ethical considerations, which I consider to be compelling, consider the practical consequences of a "right to be wrong."

For whatever reason (racial, religious, tradition), excluding a large number of people from participating in a nation's economy reduces the aggregate wealth of that country. A principal obstacle to economic development in many poor countries today is the exclusion of women from the workplace and denial of a decent education to young girls. Egyptian Copts are relegated to menial jobs because of religious intolerance. What country is so rich that it can afford the luxury of bigotry?

Moreover, if you were alive or know anything about the 1960s, you may recall the reaction of oppressed minorities in America's big cities. Put bluntly, their rage resulted in the destruction of a large number of businesses and local neighborhoods. No people suffer discrimination gladly. People are willing to fight for their rights, especially when the U.S. Constitution says those rights already belong to them.

Finally, anti-discrimination laws in the United States do not touch those properties that are truly "private." You need not admit anybody to your home against your will unless they bear a search warrant or a public health order. The areas where non-discrimination laws apply are employment, housing, education, privately-owned public accommodations, banks, and voting. In view of our nation's history, we cannot be certain that, if relieved of legal restraints, private property owners would not soon revert to our Jim Crow roots. Minorities in America require and deserve the additional legal protections that our civil rights laws provide.

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I think some of you are confusing Libertarianism with anarchism. I do not want to speak for Frank but I would submit that most Libertarians understand the need for limited government for things such as courts, pollution control, police, patent enforcement etc.

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I agree with Jefferson.

"

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[72] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

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Quote ah2:
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

My short answer is that a truly free market would internalize negative externalities. You have to be more specific. Please give me an example of an negative externality.

I am not an economist. I could provide you with links to some articles written by economists who have addressed this problem.

This is an externality:

Party 1 is making and selling a product. Party 2 agrees to purchase said product (lets call this a representation of the agregate demand for that particular product). However, the result of the transaction between Party 1 and Party 2 creates an unintended or unaccounted for effect that is EXTERNAL to the transaction that they were making which negatively effects Party 3.

Example: A company is making plastic bags. You want to buy plastic bags and do so for your own purposes. However, as a result of that transaction, the company dumps the chemicals used to make the plastic into my water supply and when you are finished with the product you throw the bag on the ground and it blows into my yard. Or lets say, even that it is purchased by a seperate company who decides to buy the lot next to my house and decides they are going to turn it intoa landfill. I can't tell them no right? Their property right?

Let's say the company even owns the portion of river that they dump the chemicals into but water has a fundamental "public" nature in that it doesn't stand still. The pollution travels down stream into other properites. It can get into the water table and pollute the water for vast geographical areas.

All of this was the result of a mutually agreed upon transation between you and a company yet it has significant results to those around you that are "external" to the original agreement made between the two of you.

In the current liberalist system, these externality effects are either mitigated by regulations or compensated for by redistributing restitution for damages to those negatively effected. This creates the paradox of your system that I was discussing.

No matter what you do, one of the 3 Parties invovled in this transaction is going to FORCE another party to accept something they don't want.

A completely voluntary system is IMPOSSIBLE because people inherently are 1) interconnected at a fundamental level, yet 2) have conflicting interests.

If the externality violates someone's rights, it should be stopped and damages paid. Pollution is a trespass; a violation of property rights.

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FrankChodorov
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Quote Achtfaden:
Quote FrankChodorov:

No. People have the right to be wrong. They have a right to do with their property as they please as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others. However, you have every right to use your property to counter their bigotry by not patronizing their businesses. Anyone who discriminates irrationally will soon find themselves out of business.

This is one area where we disagree, Frank. Besides the obvious moral and ethical considerations, which I consider to be compelling, consider the practical consequences of a "right to be wrong."

For whatever reason (racial, religious, tradition), excluding a large number of people from participating in a nation's economy reduces the aggregate wealth of that country. A principal obstacle to economic development in many poor countries today is the exclusion of women from the workplace and denial of a decent education to young girls. Egyptian Copts are relegated to menial jobs because of religious intolerance. What country is so rich that it can afford the luxury of bigotry?

Moreover, if you were alive or know anything about the 1960s, you may recall the reaction of oppressed minorities in America's big cities. Put bluntly, their rage resulted in the destruction of a large number of businesses and local neighborhoods. No people suffer discrimination gladly. People are willing to fight for their rights, especially when the U.S. Constitution says those rights already belong to them.

Finally, anti-discrimination laws in the United States do not touch those properties that are truly "private." You need not admit anybody to your home against your will unless they bear a search warrant or a public health order. The areas where non-discrimination laws apply are employment, housing, education, privately-owned public accommodations, banks, and voting. In view of our nation's history, we cannot be certain that, if relieved of legal restraints, private property owners would not soon revert to our Jim Crow roots. Minorities in America require and deserve the additional legal protections that our civil rights laws provide.

Jim Crow laws were laws. If you can't control your property, you don't really own it. Everybody should be treated equally by the law. I do agree it's bad for business and bad for a country where it is socially acceptable to discriminate. However, it is more dangerous to give the government the power to decide who is and who isn't discriminating. How would you know?

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Quote Mr.Burns:

I think some of you are confusing Libertarianism with anarchism. I do not want to speak for Frank but I would submit that most Libertarians understand the need for limited government for things such as courts, pollution control, police, patent enforcement etc.

I can argue my case from both perspectives.

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Correct, I certainly wouldn't want an American libertarian white man on my property.

Would I be allowed to shoot him, if he trespassed??

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meljomur
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Quote ah2:
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Laborisgood:

Assuming Thom is correct that any successful 3rd party needs to take over one of our 2 parties and he's incorrect that Libertarians are just pot smoking Republicans, would a pure Libertarian Party (by your definition) find it easier to take over the Democrats or the Republicans?

We first have to distinguish between capital "L" libertarians, those in the party and small "L" libertarians. I don't get involved in Lib. Party Politics but I would have to say that the Republicans would be more likely to dissolve. The Democrats are consistent. They want to control every aspect of your life. The R's only won't to control almost every aspect of your life. There is no need for two identical parties.

If the intent of this thread is about speaking truth to power, how about you knock off the straw man tactics. Democrats by no means what so ever want to contol every aspect of your life. In fact, when it comes down to it. The Democratic Party has been defined by expanding civil liberties to larger numbers of people. ANd the Republicans have proven themselves to be inclined to reach farther into your personal life than the Democrats. Example = Gay Marriage.

Civil rights/liberties are not individual rights/liberties. Civil rights converted individual liberties into privileges granted (and subject to be taken away) by the government. The government should get out of marriage, not extend its tentacles into gay marriage.

Most Democrats (and Repubicans) support War, income taxation, public schooling, tariffs, prohibition of vices, etc.

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How would patents and copyrights be enforced?

How would contracts be enforced?

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Mr.Burns
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Quote FrankChodorov:

Jim Crow laws were laws. If you can't control your property, you don't really own it. Everybody should be treated equally by the law. I do agree it's bad for business and bad for a country where it is socially acceptable to discriminate. However, it is more dangerous to give the government the power to decide who is and who isn't discriminating. How would you know?

Exactly. Discrimination was once afforded the dignity of law (de jure), whereas today it is more likely to be embedded in practice (de facto).

Control and ownership of property are not the same thing. No one in this country has complete control of his property, which can be seized by the government for failure to pay taxes or by creditors for failure to make mortgage payments. Zoning laws, strict liability, health and safety laws, etc., are common and only occasionally challenged.

Unlawful discrimination is difficult but not impossible to prove in court. During the employment process, a person is asked to complete forms stating his ethnicity. These forms are voluntary; no response is perfectly fine. However, women and people of color have a tremendous incentive to complete those forms because they are essential in documenting unlawful discrimination by an employer.

If an employer can be shown to have practiced discrimination in the past (microfilmed "Help Wanted" ads are easy to find in the local library), and if he can be shown to be discriminating in the present (not only did he not hire you, he dosn't employ anybody like you), and if a complainant can document a specific discriminatory action or policy, she may have cause of action in a civil court for civil rights relief. It's not always easy to produce that kind of evidence, which is why many discrimination lawsuite are not filed in the first place.

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The thread invited us to learn what L(l)ibertarians really think instead of what is said about them. I presume Frank intended to clear the field of what he does not affirm so we could deal with what he actually does believe. This means that he really believes what he has posted, and I have to say that I did get it before.

The problem is not that we misunderstand either the Libertarian Party or those who take the small "l" rejection of politics several steps farther off the ledge. Everything depends upon there being a general acceptance of the ethos among the citizens so the minimal state does not need to constrain bad actors. It just has to referee the game and call fouls. It does not have to eject, ban and defend against warlords or stand up to landlords. They apparently do not occur in Libertarianworld.

But my deeper criticism comes from lost opportunity costs for democracy. The democratic state is how we put our resources together most effectively to obtain the general welfare of infrastructure and culture for prosperity and security. Owning the Commons and funding it is in "our best interest." It really works great for the average person to have more held in common and less "enclosed" to private profiteering. There is a practical line at which the general ownership of commercial assets devolves to the private ownership of these "public institutions." The analysis is pure capitalism cost/benefit.

Most of the Libertarian desires would be met, it seems to me, were we able to get economics into perspective and stop making money the most important thing. Walden is not about entrepreneurism. The picture of a voluntary, self-governing community of morally responsible individuals is about a world where money and property rights are not the defining memes. While Libertarian politics appears to be oxymoronic, it is really Libertarian economics where we would need a cultural revolution to achieve its ideals. Instead of thinking about "my money" and coercion, we would need to think about making economics subordinate to other social values.

This could be a very positive contribution to our future politics, but it would take an awakening by most Libertarians to what their thinking really implies. What we tend to get is protest and reaction against disappointments in current political thinking, Left and Right. What they say about us is really ignorant. Wanting to control every aspect of people's lives. Really Frank, that is nuts.

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If you asked me 20 years ago, I'd say I was a Republican. If you asked me 20 minutes ago, I'd say I was a Democrat. Right now Frank's got me thinking I might be a Libertarian. To be honest, I've never really invested that much time in trying analyze the whole thing and find it gives me a headache when I do. That's probably what's wrong with America, there are way too many people just like me. I am truly sorry for all of the damage I brought upon our country.

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Quote FrankChodorov:

Civil rights/liberties are not individual rights/liberties. Civil rights converted individual liberties into privileges granted (and subject to be taken away) by the government. The government should get out of marriage, not extend its tentacles into gay marriage.

Most Democrats (and Repubicans) support War, income taxation, public schooling, tariffs, prohibition of vices, etc.

A bit of clarification is in order.

Civil liberties and civil rights are related to each other but are entirely different things.

Civil liberties are restrictions on the power of the national government to deny persons due process of law or religious and political freedom. You can find most of them in the U.S. Bill of Rights. Virtually none of these rights were applied to state governments until the 20th century; today, most but not all of these rights also restrict the power of state governments. The most recent civil liberty to be applied to state governments was the second amendment.

Civil rights, however, restrict the power of state governments to deny persons due process of law or equal protection of the law. These restrictions are mostly found in the "Civil War amendments," the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. These amendments also expand the legislative authority of the Congress to "implement this amendment with appropriate legislation." Congress has since enacted civil rights laws that give complainants standing to sue state governments in federal courts for civil rights violations.

I hope this clarifies matters.

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Achtfaden
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Quote DRC: What they say about us is really ignorant. Wanting to control every aspect of people's lives. Really Frank, that is nuts.

Personally, I think Frank is to be commended for his intellectual integrity and courage. Sticking his neck out on this board took a lot of guts and he has earned my admiration. Not my agreement, of course, because I think he is wrong about nearly everything!

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Mar. 10, 2011 9:22 am

I hope so too. Frank's misunderstanding of the rights issue involve in marriage or of the reason the states need to conform to human rights standards established at the federal level here as well needs this help. It is not OK for states to deny human rights with irrational and unjust laws. "Marriage" is a civil institution with civil rights attached. Equal access is a civil right because human rights are not to be violated.

The history of the Civil War Amendments and the end of Restoration is an interesting and ignoble story of serious late 19th Century racism. When Hayes withdrew the troops from the South, it was a signal to get rid of Black participation in government. And kill a lot of uppity N's. The language of the Amendments was essentially ignored because neither the North nor the South wanted a lot of new Black voters. What really happened was that the South got more votes in Congress for KKK Whites to use after Restoration was ended. All those liberated slaves go from 3/5 to 1.

An America which really thought slavery was wrong would engage in self-reflection and realize that our history is filled with ugly brutality and injustice. A Civil War is a tragic pathology, not a glorious confrontation with our illness. We did not exactly purge slavery from our body politic and still have not today. We get it both in race and economics. The behavior of the Supreme Court in this period makes today's Court look more traditional if not better. Really ugly stuff, including the Santa Clara "personhood" crap.

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DRC
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I agree with you here, DRC. The gap between our values and our practices has always been wide, especially when it comes to disadvantaged and oppressed peoples.

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Quote meljomur:

Correct, I certainly wouldn't want an American libertarian white man on my property.

Would I be allowed to shoot him, if he trespassed??

Libertarians don't believe that the use of repulsive force should be disproportionate to the level of force being initiated. A person trespassing on your property does not give you the right to shoot them on site.

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Quote DRC:

Wanting to control every aspect of people's lives. Really Frank, that is nuts.

I think I said that the Democratic Party (and the Republican Party) want to control every aspect of people's lives, their rhetoric notwithstanding. There are many progressives on this board who support many social freedoms, but not economic ones. But what I don't understand is why progressives won't say whether or not the government is one of limited powers.

FrankChodorov's picture
FrankChodorov
Joined:
Dec. 23, 2010 7:00 am
Quote DRC:

I hope so too. Frank's misunderstanding of the rights issue involve in marriage or of the reason the states need to conform to human rights standards established at the federal level here as well needs this help. It is not OK for states to deny human rights with irrational and unjust laws. "Marriage" is a civil institution with civil rights attached. Equal access is a civil right because human rights are not to be violated.

I support the right of consenting adults to marry whomever they want want. I don't think the government needs to be involve, except maybe in the area of enforcing contracts. I don't have to personally support these marriages, and neither do you. I would also object to Churches or other private entities being forced to recognize the marriages.

I also don't support the idea of corporate personhood. Corporations should be protected by law, but not as corporations. They should be protected because the people who constitute them are persons. Should the gov't be able to search the records of a corporation without a search warrant?

FrankChodorov's picture
FrankChodorov
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Dec. 23, 2010 7:00 am

Its an attractive proposition to say, one should be able to do whatever they want as long as they dont affect others, until the reality sets in that pretty much everything you do has an unintended effect on someone else.

The paradox here is that the freer the market is, the more businesses as well as individuals are going to try to push external costs onto others to remain price competitive. Theres little reason to believe that even though the freer the market is, the higher externality costs are, yet when freedom reaches 100%, externality costs drop to zero. The problem with arguing from a point of "truly free markets" is that its a completely fictional concept. Markets are created and backed by governments. The only situation where pure libertarianism (as well as pure communism, strangely enough) even remotely work in the slightest are small aboriginal tribes with very low population density.

While the spectrum of examples are highly varied, normally negative externalities come in the realm of the commons/the environment. The market cannot have a solution for it because 3rd parties are affected whether or not they personally purchase or support the entity in question. Only in extreme cases are the market forces large enough to affect change.

Example 1) The risk of cancer if you live within 50 miles of a power plant are greatly increased. Health care system is impacted for everyone, on top of the local devestation to the residents.

Example 2) The water supply of a small town is getting polluted because a small amount of individuals that live in proximity to the aquifer recharge zone have a livestock farm and the wastes are being disposed of in typical fashion. A boycott is launched by the town, nothing changes.

Example 3) A motorist doesnt wear a seatbelt and gets into an accident. Everyone's health care costs/insurance costs go up marginally as a result.

Example 4) The standard way that mineral mining works in the US is as follows: The mining company extracts the ore via the cheapest method possible, leaving the area in a place where the residents/local governments have to incur long term cleanup costs, sometimes FOREVER. The company in question sells all its assets to shell company, cuts checks to it's executives and declares bankruptcy. Rinse and repeat. In 3rd world countries where environmental regulations are more lax (freer market), companies get to skip the last part.

Example 5) [fictional scenario] 99% of logging companies cut their trees at a sustainable pace due to market pressures. However, the miniscule market for slightly cheaper wood is large enough that 1% of logging companies, despite boycotts from almost every consumer, is able to continue clear cutting forests and leaving them that way. People unfortunate enough to live near that 1% experience loss of topsoil, upset water tables, loss of biodiversity, local change of climate and so on.

Dr Mario Kart's picture
Dr Mario Kart
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The ENTIRETY of marriage is a government involved affair. If you love a person, you dont need to get married. If you want to get property rights involved, if you want to be able to share certain benefits like health care with someone, visitation rights, and a whole host of other things, thats entirely the realm of the government. As you say - enforcing contracts, but surely you dont think it wise for any entity to enforce a contract that they had no say in the terms/basic standards of.

If you say that you support the right of any two consenting adults to get married, then the enforcement of contracts clause you laid out pretty much forces recognition of it. If you want to make marriage completely meaningless as far as additional benefits, with no contracts to be enforced, then I guess that would work.

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Dr Mario Kart
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

When I was phiosophy student I was what was called a system builder. Give me a set of ideals and as long as they were consistant I could design a world where they worked. The real world problem would always be getting a large enough percentage of the population to live up to those ideals.

In my history libertariansm was a current of 1970's liberalism. Government was an enforcment tool for the greedy and bigoted. Libertarianism was an attempt to defeat those opressors by denying them their tool. Alternatively, those who became progressives chose instead to try to control and reform that tool.

People did take over the tools of government and used it to become corrupt. People like Frank denounce them and call them "liberals" derisively. That rhetoric is unfair, but refers to a reality. But people who chose the libertarian path also had corrupt bigots. It is also unfair for us to judge people like Frank.

Discrimination is an excellent example. In a libertarian world a racist businessman would indeed go bankrupt. The problem is that there are more than enough bigots - in real life he would flourish - by warping and taking advantage of calling himself a libertarian. Sorry, Frank, but a libertarian would have to address the issues of entrenched bigotry and corruption in a real world, and it would require more coercive measures that you would ever want. But now you have every right to ask us why Dennis Kucinich isn't President, or why Jimmy Carter wasn't reelected.

One little hint, though. Do not call Diane Feinstein a liberal. And Thom, your line about libertarians being Republicans who want to smoke dope and get laid is wrong.

doh1304's picture
doh1304
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Dec. 6, 2010 10:49 am
Quote FrankChodorov:

I've noticed a lot of misconceptions concerning libertarians and what they believe. Rather than accept what our ideological opponents say we believe, I would appreciate it if anyone on this board would ask me any question they want.

Holy Shish Kebab! The responses to Frank's offer are amazing. I am blown away at the level of interest the folks here on Thom's board have in libertarian thought.

Frank, you're never going to have time to address all these questions, but there are a few resources available from which we could solicit answers to the questions that are being asked. Here are a couple of sites that are primarily market anarchist sites: ZeroGov and anti-state.com. For a mix of market anarchism and minarchist-style libertarianism, there probably is no better forum than the forums at Mises.org. For the libertarian with a capital L (Libertarian Party) perspective, any of the various Libertarian Party forums would probably be a good idea. Here's a link to the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania.

I would suggest that someone here post the questions raised one one or more of those forums. If nobody feels like signing up, I'd be happy to get your questions posted. There are lots of folks on these boards who would love to be asked about their philosophy.

If you do post a question on one of those (or some other) boards, please post a link here, so we can follow along.

Azog's picture
Azog
Joined:
Jan. 3, 2011 3:42 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:

I agree with Jefferson.

"

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[72] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

The issue with Jefferson's formualtion is that he positioned "the people" as unitarian and of one mind in terms of what they give their consent to. This thread is living proof that this will never exist. Thus, in any industrialized society that has this level of particularity there will ALWAYS be some level of coersion or force.

Here is the mind screw I will put on you: Accepting Frank's formulation of what the government should do FORCES those who have socialist ideals to accept a system that has a minimal level of commons and also capitalist rule over the means of production.

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ah2:
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

My short answer is that a truly free market would internalize negative externalities. You have to be more specific. Please give me an example of an negative externality.

I am not an economist. I could provide you with links to some articles written by economists who have addressed this problem.

This is an externality:

Party 1 is making and selling a product. Party 2 agrees to purchase said product (lets call this a representation of the agregate demand for that particular product). However, the result of the transaction between Party 1 and Party 2 creates an unintended or unaccounted for effect that is EXTERNAL to the transaction that they were making which negatively effects Party 3.

Example: A company is making plastic bags. You want to buy plastic bags and do so for your own purposes. However, as a result of that transaction, the company dumps the chemicals used to make the plastic into my water supply and when you are finished with the product you throw the bag on the ground and it blows into my yard. Or lets say, even that it is purchased by a seperate company who decides to buy the lot next to my house and decides they are going to turn it intoa landfill. I can't tell them no right? Their property right?

Let's say the company even owns the portion of river that they dump the chemicals into but water has a fundamental "public" nature in that it doesn't stand still. The pollution travels down stream into other properites. It can get into the water table and pollute the water for vast geographical areas.

All of this was the result of a mutually agreed upon transation between you and a company yet it has significant results to those around you that are "external" to the original agreement made between the two of you.

In the current liberalist system, these externality effects are either mitigated by regulations or compensated for by redistributing restitution for damages to those negatively effected. This creates the paradox of your system that I was discussing.

No matter what you do, one of the 3 Parties invovled in this transaction is going to FORCE another party to accept something they don't want.

A completely voluntary system is IMPOSSIBLE because people inherently are 1) interconnected at a fundamental level, yet 2) have conflicting interests.

If the externality violates someone's rights, it should be stopped and damages paid. Pollution is a trespass; a violation of property rights.

And the issue with this is that there is literally no transaction that has absolutely zero externality factor. Virtually every productive process we have creates waste (this is not the only type of externality but it is a significant one).

Who decides what our rights are? Do I have a right to not look out my window and see an ugly chainlink fence on my property line? By the time you get done saying people can't engage in any transaction that has an externality effect on someone else, you will have economic gridlock and no one will be allowed to purchase, sell, or trade anything.

Additionally, telling someone that they can't sell something due to an externality effect is FORCING them to do something which violates the original statement of your position.

LIBERTARIANISM IS INHERENTLY PARADOXICAL AND CONTRADICTORY.

You still didn't answer my question about free-rider problems or the issue of pervasive de facto racism that would literally prohibit someone from their means of subsitence which ostensibly you still believe we all have a right to given the quote above. You also have not addressed the issue of private courts and hwo you would get companies to willingly submit to a judge that was not already in their pocket or had their best interest at heart (that is, without FORCE).

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote ah2:
Quote FrankChodorov:
Quote Dr Mario Kart:

How does the libertarian account for negative externalties in the free market, given that (by definition) it is imposing costs on others against their will.

My short answer is that a truly free market would internalize negative externalities. You have to be more specific. Please give me an example of an negative externality.

I am not an economist. I could provide you with links to some articles written by economists who have addressed this problem.

This is an externality:

Party 1 is making and selling a product. Party 2 agrees to purchase said product (lets call this a representation of the agregate demand for that particular product). However, the result of the transaction between Party 1 and Party 2 creates an unintended or unaccounted for effect that is EXTERNAL to the transaction that they were making which negatively effects Party 3.

Example: A company is making plastic bags. You want to buy plastic bags and do so for your own purposes. However, as a result of that transaction, the company dumps the chemicals used to make the plastic into my water supply and when you are finished with the product you throw the bag on the ground and it blows into my yard. Or lets say, even that it is purchased by a seperate company who decides to buy the lot next to my house and decides they are going to turn it intoa landfill. I can't tell them no right? Their property right?

Let's say the company even owns the portion of river that they dump the chemicals into but water has a fundamental "public" nature in that it doesn't stand still. The pollution travels down stream into other properites. It can get into the water table and pollute the water for vast geographical areas.

All of this was the result of a mutually agreed upon transation between you and a company yet it has significant results to those around you that are "external" to the original agreement made between the two of you.

In the current liberalist system, these externality effects are either mitigated by regulations or compensated for by redistributing restitution for damages to those negatively effected. This creates the paradox of your system that I was discussing.

No matter what you do, one of the 3 Parties invovled in this transaction is going to FORCE another party to accept something they don't want.

A completely voluntary system is IMPOSSIBLE because people inherently are 1) interconnected at a fundamental level, yet 2) have conflicting interests.

If the externality violates someone's rights, it should be stopped and damages paid. Pollution is a trespass; a violation of property rights.

Can I just point out here that Frank just placed an environmental regulation on someone here? This small chain of comments within this thread that led him to say this is the exact rationale for governmental involvement that is behind the EPA. All the EPA does is assess enivronmental externalities and then makes judgment calls as to what is a tresspass on other people's property rights - that's it.

So, tell me Frank, in your libertarian world, if the people don't get to impose this restriction through democratic means, what company in their right mind will a) have the gall to tell another company that they can't pollute because it is equivelent to a rights infraction b) have the ability to force the company to comply, c) will be more immune to corruption (than the EPA, for example)itself in its practices, d) how do you establish this company's right to tell another company what their externality limit is?

For the EPA, this right is clearly established - it has legitimacy through democratic process and consent of "the people".

Are people getting it yet?

Frank, I know I am being somewhat of a prick here and I am truly sorry about that but it really concerns me when I hear folks like Laborisgood come on here and actually start buying into what you are saying. I say this next bit with the utmost love and I hope that you take it as constructive criticism rather than an attack:

I personally believe that the vast majority of Libertarians in this country, like Frank, have little understanding of important economic problems like externalities and freerider problems and the understanding that "public goods" are public, not because the government deals with them, but because of the very nature of the good itself (like a river or the water table that can in no way be divided up into property lines). THE ONLY WAY that you can truly believe in pure Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism like that guy Block he posted in the other thread is if you either a) do not have even a rudimentary understanding of the economy, or b) choose to ignore those inherent problems in how the economy works in order to advance your own interests.

The common libertarian is a) the economist Libertarian is b). Those who are economist and politicians who claim to actually believe that Libertarianism will work actually don't believe that. They know that it is inherently a completely disfunctional way to look at the economy. Rather, the reason they advance those concepts is because they realize that those ideas are best suited to advance their own personal political and economic interests. THERE IS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST SO WHY ARE YOU LISTENING TO THEM?

Example: If you are an economist who has holdings in or is getting paid by a multinational corporation that wants to make a particular good that has a high pollution level in its production process - or even that company is builing factories but doesn't want to spend the money on conforming to environmental regulations - would it not be in your best interest to convince the general (and extremely uninformed) public that there is no such thing as an externality effect? Would it not benefit you to convince them to believe in the myth of a transaction that is mutually voluntary to all parties that transaction effects? Would it not benefit you to convince people that they should attempt to demolish all democratic oversight so that the corporations could "watch dog" themselves?

This is where it is going to get harsh, and I direct my comment to Laborisgood and all others who are actually humoring Franks ideas here: Why would we let someone who could not even pass the final exam in an economics 101 course try to tell us how the economy should be run?

ah2
Joined:
Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm
Quote Achtfaden:

I agree with you here, DRC. The gap between our values and our practices has always been wide, especially when it comes to disadvantaged and oppressed peoples.

Let's put a spin on it then.. for example..

Ok let's say that you are a black restaurant owner and a patron walks in, dressed in full blown KKK garb. Do you have a right to refuse service to him?

Cheesebone's picture
Cheesebone
Joined:
Sep. 1, 2010 9:18 am
Quote ah2:

Party 1 is making and selling a product. Party 2 agrees to purchase said product (lets call this a representation of the agregate demand for that particular product). However, the result of the transaction between Party 1 and Party 2 creates an unintended or unaccounted for effect that is EXTERNAL to the transaction that they were making which negatively effects Party 3.

Example: A company is making plastic bags. You want to buy plastic bags and do so for your own purposes. However, as a result of that transaction, the company dumps the chemicals used to make the plastic into my water supply and when you are finished with the product you throw the bag on the ground and it blows into my yard. Or lets say, even that it is purchased by a seperate company who decides to buy the lot next to my house and decides they are going to turn it intoa landfill. I can't tell them no right? Their property right?

Frank - Am I correct in my understanding that anarcho-capitalists don't deny the existence of externalities but rather see them as the result of ill defined property rights? I've heard it said that property rights are part of the spontaneous order that emerges to help avoid conflicts. I recall Block using an example similar to the one cited by ah2, in which someone was polluting a river. Block's contention was that the owners of the river would have a claim against the polluter. The original owners would be those who initially established a homestead claim (those who lived by and used the river.)

I don't know, anarcho-capitalism doesn't seem all that crazy to me. Keep talking, what you're saying makes sense.

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Azog
Joined:
Jan. 3, 2011 3:42 pm

ah2: My comments were a bit tongue in cheek about believing I'm now a Libertarian. However, I probably have traits of all 3 parties in my repertoire.

My goal was to point to my lack of aptitude on the subject at hand and honestly admit that too many Americans having the same level of sophistication as myself is a significant part of our problem.

For the record, I took (and passed) 2 economics classes in college. One was a macroeconomics (Econ101) which bored me to tears and I found not so useful. The other was a microeconomics class relating to the time value of money and rates of return which I found to be extremely useful, but still a bit boring.

Regardless of my personal likes or dislikes of particular subjects, I've always looked at money and economics as just a necessary evil that goes along for the ride with more useful subjects as opposed to a worthy subject unto itself.

Laborisgood's picture
Laborisgood
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This is an interesting series of posts. I myself am not a true libertarian (being honest) because I believe that government force should be minimized, but not eliminated entirely. For example, I do acknowledge the need for prisons and that it is manipulative to let people know that if they break the law that is where they will go. However, even in prison people must be free from the manipulation of torture and brainwashing. One point that I must make is that libertarianism is more about means than about ends. A libertarian would like to live in a world free from poverty, hunger, war, etc., but does not support achieving those things through coercion (a form of manipulation). I know that this is a short summary of what has already been posted here in this particular blog, this is just my own spin. I welcome feedback and I thank FrankChordov for posting.

Unknown - Those who fight monsters must be careful not to become one.

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