The case for democracy

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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203 Responses

  1. Avatar karl
    Ignored
    says:

    I can’t wait to see what kind of reasonable, empirically derived comments you get on this one.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    I don’t think that the Libertarian problem is with other people wanting to live in a Welfare State. I think that the problem is that there’s no “right of exit” for the folks who don’t. There’s no way to opt-out (well, short of being told to move to Somalia).

    The notion of Federalism is the notion that appeals most to the Libertarian. Hey, you want to live in a Massachusetts-like welfare state? Move to Massachusetts! Hey, you want to live in Wyoming-like isolation? Hey! Move to Wyoming!

    The entire country is Massachusetts now. If we don’t like it, we’re told to move to Somalia. There is no other way to opt-out.Report

    • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Are you saying that the opt-out option of moving somewhere else (hopefully you could find better than Somalia) doesn’t count?Report

      • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Elias Isquith
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        says:

        (P.S.: LOL @ the idea of the entire country being Massachusetts now.)Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to Elias Isquith
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        says:

        It doesn’t exist. You still need to pay us income taxes for 10 years after you renounce citizenship. That means there no true right exit. On a related note look at all the hatred lefties have for seasteading. That wouldn’t exist if the left believed in the right to exit.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith
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        says:

        If you were arguing for Universal Health Care and my response was “if you want Universal Health Care, move to Denmark”, would you see that as me providing you with a real option?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          No, but I would your response “then make an argument persuasive enough to make it so.”Report

        • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I’d let you try to convince a majority you were right and would at most use the same process if the conclusion was not to my liking. Your version of libertarianism offers no equivalent remedy since you regard taxation and execution as fundamentally equivalent morally. This isnt news to you, no need to play obtuse.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith
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            says:

            I’d let you try to convince a majority you were right and would at most use the same process if the conclusion was not to my liking.

            One of the main differences between our world views is that, under mine, it is not within your jurisdiction to “let” me try to convince anyone of anything.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              Which pretty much validates Eric’s point about L view of democracy.Report

            • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              Totally disingenuous dodge.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith
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                says:

                How’s this? I’d have my AG sue the government to have the Supreme Court rule the PPACA as unconstitutional.

                Is that cool? Will you “let” me do that?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Elias Isquith
                Ignored
                says:

                The frustrating thing about that answer (whatever answer you might give) is that the PPACA is unconstitutional unless you use a reading of the constitution that is broad to the point that it would be useless if readings that broad were given to the other Amendments.

                There is a long tendency to read the constitution in such a way that a broad reading gives power to the government at the expense of the states or the individual and narrow readings when it reaches the same conclusion.

                There are a handful of exceptions (notable ones, good ones) where fights were won on behalf of the individual at the expense of the state, but those are much more rare than little itty bitty examples of encroachment on behalf of the government.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                My issue with this is that the Constitution is always interpreted multiple ways. I think the point that Elias and I (and actually Erik) are trying to make is that just because you have yet to knock down PPACA does not mean that you don’t have the mechanisms to do so. Off the top of my head, you can elect enough people that agree with you and have the law repealed, or you can have enough states change the constitution to make this and anything remotely like it illegal. You can ratify the constitution to allow for 25 SOJUSs, elect a president that promises to make any govt actions in healthcare unconstitutional and load up the bench so that it won’t be until your children’s children are voting that anyone can get a whiff of universal care. The reason you don’t do any of these things isn’t because you’re not free to; it’s that not enough people agree with you that it’s worth doing.

                Having society around you make decisions you don’t like isn’t an inherent flaw of democracy – it’s an inherent flaw of living with people.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                I have less faith in the mechanisms than most, apparently.

                When the goal is more important than the process, there are a lot of unintended consequences. We’ve been cultivating them for quite some time and we’re fixing to have a bumper crop.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Could be. Could be that the message that this country’s about to capsize, go under, and become either a barren wasteland or an evil dictatorship might be right – despite the fact that every generation has had its share of folks perpetually sure that this really, really is about to happen.

                But maybe not.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Oh, I’m not about to argue that we’ve finally reached eschatological-level events.

                I am, however, going to argue that there are a lot of things that have done a lot of heavy lifting for a good long while:

                Culture. Technological advancement. Cheap energy.

                Without heavy lifting being done, I don’t know that we can carry the same burdens that have been carried in the past.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                What types of things do you mean when you say burdens?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Positive obligations on the part of society as a whole.

                We have seen this manifest, with regards to health care anyway, in it being difficult to find dentists in certain parts of town (for example).

                I expect that this will accelerate. More people will be covered for more things but they won’t be able to find someone who will be able to treat them.

                I could be wrong, of course.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                This is an example of what I mean when I say that it’s not so simple to discern what is meddling and what is not.

                We have set up a system where most of us have access to Drs and dentists for almost no visible cost, and we have come to think of them as something we have a right to expect to be conveniently located. But it certainly appears we can’t afford this system anymore.

                So is trying to force the system to remain convenient for a little bit longer before it breaks down meddling? Is trying to change the system so that convenient locations are no longer an automatic expectation meddling? Is having the government take over and do what other countries do meddling? Is actively scrapping the entire system and hoping that things will just automatically work out thanks to ‘the market’ meddling?

                I think you’re going to have trouble finding consensus on the whole meddling thing.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The fact that more than 1/2 of the population (moral relativist liberals, and anti-government conservatives/libertarians) feel that it should be taboo to talk about how one should live, or that there are right choices/better choices, and that enjoying the surplus of common living requires giving up certain things as well is the real shift over the past 100 years.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                E.C., I could not have put it better myself.

                I have no doubt that the future will hold many more discussions about how one should live, and that there are right choices/better choices, and that enjoying the surplus of common living requires giving up certain things.

                And there will be punishments meted out for those who fail to meet their obligations.

                I suspect that we will see an acceleration of that as well, once it gets rolling.Report

              • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Mechanisms = democracy. It’s fine obviously to feel this way but own it and dont pretend it’s *really* about federalism or other red herrings. You do not like (trust, if you prefer) democracy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It’s not the aversion to democracy, it’s the idea that there are areas where your opinion is not relevant, even if you have an overwhelming majority on your side.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It’s not the aversion to democracy, it’s the idea that there are areas where your opinion is not relevant, even if you have an overwhelming majority on your side.

                Not to Godwin or anything but I’m pretty sure that the anti miscegenation and anti civil rights folks made this same argument.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Not to Godwin or anything but I’m pretty sure that the anti miscegenation and anti civil rights folks made this same argument.

                Actually, the pro-miscegenation side made this anti-democratic argument. At the time of Loving v. Virginia, solid majorities opposed interracial marriage, and for quite a few years afterward, a national plebiscite on the issue would likely have reached the opposite conclusion from the Court’s.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Yes, because marriage is a civil right. A low or high tax rate isn’t.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Not to Godwin or anything but I’m pretty sure that the anti miscegenation and anti civil rights folks made this same argument.

                Attributed to Pat Moynihan:

                “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

                This seems really great, but the more I think about it, the less the “central liberal truth” holds up outside anything but the history of the race question in America.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Actually, the pro-miscegenation side made this anti-democratic argument. At the time of Loving v. Virginia, solid majorities opposed interracial marriage, and for quite a few years afterward, a national plebiscite on the issue would likely have reached the opposite conclusion from the Court’s.

                Um. What? Your argument was that if the majority agreed with you your opinion could still be irrelevant. Which as you correctly noted was the case in miscegenation laws at the time of Loving (the majority supported them and they were still found unconstitutional). I think you have your pro and anti confused there.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Oh. Wait. I see what you were saying. The pro-miscegenation side was supporting the “anti-democratic” notion you were complaining about. This is true. But it was the anti side which was making the argument you appear to be making (that this was/is a bad state of affairs, philosophically or morally).Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Oh. Wait. I see what you were saying. The pro-miscegenation side was supporting the “anti-democratic” notion you were complaining about. This is true. But it was the anti side which was making the argument you appear to be making (that this was/is a bad state of affairs, philosophically or morally).

                Actually, this is one “anti-democratic” notion that I’m relatively comfortable with, myself. Have you seen the opinion polls on the First Amendment? That one usually wouldn’t pass a national plebiscite either.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I confused you and JB. Mea Culpa.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The Drug War is a better example: the majority want to keep fighting it. Those opposed may be correct, but it’s a matter of policy, not rights.

                Until the Supreme Court takes up the right to do drugs, of course. But those who saw the crack epidemic can argue that a society—a nation, a culture, whathaveyou—has the right to defend itself against plagues.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The Drug War is a better example: the majority want to keep fighting it. Those opposed may be correct, but it’s a matter of policy, not rights.

                Until the Supreme Court takes up the right to do drugs, of course. But those who saw the crack epidemic can argue that a society—a nation, a culture, whathaveyou—has the right to defend itself against plagues.

                Actually, the drug war is an excellent example. There is little reason to think that the public will get anything right in this area, where what is called for is the careful, sustained examination of expert criminological and medical opinion, combined with the weighing of individual cases and the overall experience of our criminal justice system. Are recreational drugs like an epidemic? Are some of them like an epidemic, but not others? Or is the comparison not really helpful? These are complexities I don’t expect to see well resolved at a ballot box, regardless of what the right answer is.

                I do find it remarkable, for one, how many former drug warriors there are — people who got into the field full of prohibitionist enthusiasm, but who then quit in disgust. I think it says something about the drug war in general, but we should have that discussion on another, more appropriate thread.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I would like to apologize to Jason for any circumstances under which he is mixed up with me.

                I will, however, say that my day is made.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                > There is little reason to think
                > that the public will get anything
                > right in this area, where what
                > is called for is the careful,
                > sustained examination of
                > expert criminological and
                > medical opinion, combined
                > with the weighing of individual
                > cases and the overall
                > experience of our criminal
                > justice system.

                IVORY TOWER ELITIST! I *knew* you were just a useful idiot for the Left!

                Jason Kuznicki, playing a useful idiot for both sides of the political spectrum since 2009!

                * this comment intended to be ironic.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      If you don’t like it, participate in the process and actively join in “self-government.”

      Most libertarian aversion to democracy appears to result from the civic duty it places on them.

      God forbid anyone need be politically involved and vigilant.

      Case and point, don’t blame the law for being passed, or including an individual mandate, blame the people who don’t care enough to organize against it in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.C. Gach
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s not the aversion to democracy, it’s the idea that there are areas where your opinion is not relevant, even if you have an overwhelming majority on your side.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I think most of us would agree that having limitations on democracy is a good idea – hence we have a constitution, representatives, etc.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          I think you have a huge majority of people who would agree with this statement. But what you don’t answer and ignore in how you frame this is what that is going to mean in an operational sense. Who people choose to consensually copulate with: none of anyone business. Universal health care: is that only your business? Your veto which you want to use to prevent a national level plan would actually take HC from others. Now you could say that the Fed’s shouldn’t be involved in any way with HC, so then that means no SCHIP, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no programs for people with breast cancer who can’t get insurance, no more tax breaks for emp provided insurance. If that is where you want to go, then go there, but then its on you to show us how that will work, tell us why millions wouldn’t have insurance and why that is just. If you are going to keep all those Fed level plans, as many are fine with, then that is solely a ” i want mine and screw everybody else” argument.

          PS I have absolutely no belief that you don’t care about others.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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            says:

            A discussion about justice would be an interesting one.

            Is the fact that some people are better looking than others “just”?

            Is the fact that some people are smarter than others “just”?

            We’ve established SCHIP, Medicare, Medicaid and it’s still not enough. Is there any amount of health care that will ever, ever, ever be “just”?Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              The fact that the exact perfect level of “just” HC is probably theoretically impossible to determine since it involves opinion doesn’t imply we shouldn’t do more. People will always argue: so what? People will always argue about freedom, does that mean we shouldn’t try to be more free? Hardly.

              One of the questions regarding justice would be ” Why do some get some while others nothing?” Looks are genetic luck. HC is something the Gov can provide or facilitate. Apples meet oranges.Report

        • Avatar George A. Chien in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          But really, how else could it be, if there be more than one person in the world? There are always going to be areas where one or another of my opinions are not relevant.
          And even if I possessed this earth in solitary splendor, the day would come when my all my opinions to the contrary not withstanding, old age, or cancer, or heart disease would come for me.
          So, there are areas where my opinion is not relevant. I find I can live with that.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to George A. Chien
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            says:

            There are people who see your barter transactions as their business.

            There are people who see your marriage as their business.

            There are people who see your pregnancy as their business.

            There are people who see your recreational habits as their business.

            And every single one of those, without exception, could easily be argued as being very much part of the business of the community.

            Indeed. They are.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              So is the community looking out after the community an inherently bad thing?Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                A recent episode of Wilfred helped clarify my feelings on this. The pack looks after it’s own. Exist outside of it at your own risk.

                Why libertarians should be so against positive obligations, but than howl about the lack of viable alternatives for opting out of society is beyond me.

                If a person doesn’t have a job, well, that’s their own responsibility. But if a person doesn’t agree with the consensus, well, the least the consensus could do is supply that individual with a waiver.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                Inherently bad? Of course not.

                If taken to an extreme similar to the extreme given of the Libertarians described in the original post?

                I’d say that it leads to quite a great many things that are uncomfortable topics (including, but not limited to, the expectation of a community to police who may or may not join the community).Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m not tying to force you into an extreme corner. I’m more curious as to what kind of a system you envision that doesn’t have the community looking out for the community in bad ways, only good ways – and how that’s accomplished without coercion.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                In practice they’re as likely to result in Quebec’s language laws or housing covenants that require consensus on the people to whom you are allowed to sell your house as, say, Universal Health Care.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                That doesn’t answer my question – how do you have a system that doesn’t have any kind of coercion? Or is this less a critique of our current system and more a lament of the nature of man?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Or to be more accurate with my question, how do you have a system that has only “good” coercion and no “bad” coercion?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                You can’t.

                Your choice seems to be between degrees of bad coercion (mitigated, under the best of circumstances, by similar amounts of good coercion).

                (Plus there’s that whole thing with “one culture’s good coercion is another culture’s bad” thing that we probably don’t want to delve too deeply into.)Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Then I’m not sure I understand what it is that you are hoping for when you point out that in our current system this is a problem.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                We are moving in a direction where there will be *MORE* of a problem.

                I would like to move in a direction where there will be less of one. The arguments given by those in defense of more focus entirely on the upsides of more meddling and ignore the downsides.

                Similar to the Iraq War, arguments against are painted as arguments against the Iraqi People deciding to have government for themselves rather than, oh, the things that are equally, if not more, likely to happen.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I think you’ve just gotten closer to where I am hoping to meet you – the meddling part. How do we classify what is meddling and what is not?

                I may be just too cynical, but I’m pretty sure if we decide to move in this direction we well find a wide array of opinions as to what constitutes meddling and what constitutes freedom.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The fundamental question, for me, is “where do Human Rights come from?”

                Answers to this question tend to fall into two categories:

                1) The answers that say, basically, that Rights are seated in the individual.

                2) The answers that say, basically, that Rights are privileges extended by the society.

                (There are examples of 1s in the comments to this post and there are examples of 2s in the comments of this post.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                And to answer your question, what “medding” consists of depends on what Rights are.

                People who hold a position that fits in 1s are most likely to see (certain) policies by people whose positions are closer to 2s as meddling. I’m trying to come up with an example that goes the other way and failing.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I think for me this is a false dichotomy that is helpful for philosophical debates but not much else.

                I’m not sure that individuals and society are as separate and competing as this line of thinking suggests.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Well, in practice then, I’d say that we are moving from a society where the general assumptions by the general population tend to fall in the 1s category into a society where the general assumptions by the general population tend to fall in the 2s category.

                E.C. wrote a lovely comment about what that will eventually mean.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                “Or to be more accurate with my question, how do you have a system that has only “good” coercion and no “bad” coercion?”

                By using coercion only to stop coercion. Once positive coercion is legitimate, in other words when the community can decide what “good” coercion to use against me to make me act in ways best for the collective, according to the majority, then it’s up to what the majority in the collective decides is best for me, whether I think it’s best or not. You might think this is right and necessary, but I don’t. And you might not think so if a majority of the collective begins coericing you to do things you believe are against what you think is best, or even what you think is best for everyone.

                The majoritarian will say just get the majority to follow your path, but this creates wars only the meanest and most ruthless will win. Constitutional limitations were designed to allow the minority freedom from majority coercion. At one time, true liberals risked their lives to defend the rights of the minority. Conversely, and ironically, this type of pitting interests against one another in political battle usually results in a strong, powerful, dangerous minority with the meanest enforcers controlling everything.Report

              • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                1) The answers that say, basically, that Rights are seated in the individual.

                2) The answers that say, basically, that Rights are privileges extended by the society.

                I think it’s both. As a foundational fiction, I prefer #1 for the answer. But in honesty, I think the answer is both.Report

              • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to Tod Kelly
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                says:

                @ Jay, if there were only one individual in existence, I’m not sure questions about rights would even make sense.

                As a result, I’m reluctant to see them as residing in individuals.

                Blood resides in me, I could be the only one left but still bleed. Rights to be left alone/free speech? Not so much.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.C. Gach
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                says:

                Fair enough.

                That leads to conclusions that I find exceptionally distasteful.

                That’s no reason to *NOT* reach a particular conclusion, of course… but the other assumption (not having been falsified yet) remains much more compelling for me.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to E.C. Gach
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                says:

                There is a solution to that though – redefine rights as obligations i.e. my right to life is an obligation on everyone else not to kill me. Those obligations would still exist in isolation (I’d have an obligation not to kill anyone I met), they just wouldn’t be binding constraints (if I never meet anyone I can’t kill them even if I try really hard).Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Federalism has some pretty serious downsides that are hard to reconcile. It’s sort of a mongrel version of true subsidiarity. In an ideal libertarian federalist society the feds would be too weak to do much of anything. So you get slavery and Jim Crow and any number of other problems. There’s absolutely room for “laboratories of democracy” and decentralization, but I think federalism has botched it badly.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      JB: I don’t think that the Libertarian problem is with other people wanting to live in a Welfare State. I think that the problem is that there’s no “right of exit” for the folks who don’t. The notion of Federalism is the notion that appeals most to the Libertarian. Hey, you want to live in a Massachusetts-like welfare state? Move to Massachusetts! Hey, you want to live in Wyoming-like isolation? Hey! Move to Wyoming!

      The entire country is Massachusetts now. If we don’t like it, we’re told to move to Somalia. There is no other way to opt-out.

      What’s the difference between this problem and the campus Communist not having a “right of exit?” When you give people the freedom to change to your system and they choose not to, why must they then be forced to create a place for you to go to experience that system?

      True State coercion isn’t having the government say “you can’t do drugs.” That’s just a choice we’ve made. If you treat this as true State coercion in any meaningful sense then you’ll find yourself in a philosophical conundrum once you realize you can’t have groups of people living together in any kind of system – or lack of system – that does not have rely on coercion.

      True State coercion – the kind that would be meaningful and morally wrong – is making it so that even if the majority of people want drugs legalized they do not have a mechanism to make it so.

      If there is a single criticism I have of libertarians in general, it is that they often confuse “we have libertarians not been successful accomplishing X” with “the system does not allow X to be done.”Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        > If there is a single criticism I have of libertarians
        > in general, it is that they often confuse “we have
        > libertarians not been successful accomplishing
        > X” with “the system does not allow X to be done.”

        My biggest criticism of libertarianism is that I don’t see how to get there from here, and I don’t see how to stay there once you get there.

        Both of those problems are contextual, though. I can easily imagine getting there with, say, putting a libertarian colony on Ceti Whisky IV.

        I can also see staying there with enough technology to render the bottom sufficiently high above ground that disaffection isn’t a game-killer.

        Both of those things are currently off the table as conditions on the ground, though.

        Germane to your comment: does the system allow X to be done?

        In many cases (not just for libertarians, but also for liberals and conservatives), there is no difference between “the system theoretically allows X to be done” and “conditions on the ground result in the probability of X being done to be within epsilon of zero”.Report

  3. Avatar Dan
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    says:

    It doesn’t exist. You still need to pay us income taxes for 10 years after you renounce citizenship. That means there no true right exit. On a related note look at all the hatred lefties have for seasteading. That wouldn’t exist if the left believed in the right to exit.Report

    • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Dan
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      says:

      No, it means that you have to wait 10 years after leaving before you fully exit. If I have to wait 15 minutes before my pizza delivery arrives, it doesn’t mean that deliverable pizza doesn’t exist.Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to Elias Isquith
        Ignored
        says:

        Except you aren’t living in the country and aren’t getting any benefits yet they still take your money. Having to pay for 10 years without receive any benefits is not an exit. If the seasteaders succeed in setting up a community do you honestly believe that the federal government will allow it to last? If welfare statists really believed in open exit boarders why all the effort to crack down on “tax havens” (really just people voting with their feet for lower taxes).Report

      • Avatar Dan in reply to Elias Isquith
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        says:

        if you and your ilk really believed in freedom to exit you wouldn’t right article like this:http://www.alternet.org/story/147058/Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Dan
          Ignored
          says:

          If you capitalized the first word in a sentence and spelled “write” correctly I might pay attention to you even when you use words like “ilk” to describe the other side.Report

          • Avatar Dan in reply to E.D. Kain
            Ignored
            says:

            So pick out typo rather than focus on the on content. Why is there so much hostility over seasteading from the left?Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Dan
              Ignored
              says:

              How we frame our questions is very important. If you want to be taken seriously calling people “ilk” and then spelling “write” incorrectly is a bad first step.

              I could care less about seastedding. Have fun with that.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Dan
              Ignored
              says:

              I read the article. Do you seriously believe that writing an article criticizing Frank Carlucci really requires a deep antipathy for freedom? If so, why?Report

              • Avatar Dan in reply to Rufus F.
                Ignored
                says:

                They seem seriously threatened by the prospect of people seasteading the first page in particular shows hostility towards the seasteading movement. I just find it telling the lefties response to libertarians has always been “if you don’t like it here leave” then as soon as someone creates a plan to they treat it as a major threat. If they really believed in freedom of movement they wouldn’t have a problem with seasteading.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Dan
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think anybody regards seasteading as a major threat.Report

    • Avatar George A. Chien in reply to Dan
      Ignored
      says:

      You may be confusing well-deserved ridicule with hatred.
      They are different.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Dan
      Ignored
      says:

      Re: the whole 10 year thing, about which I know only what I’ve learned on this blog:

      Okay, I move to X country and don’t pay my next 10 years of income taxes. But I don’t think IRS agents go to X country to collect. (Cue in jokes about the IRS sending drone agents to take me out.) Sure, I might not be able to revisit the US, but I had the right to exit. The 10-year condition, if I am not misinterpreting it, seems to me a condition on your status with the US if you choose to exit: you pay taxes on your next 10 years of income, then you are in good standing should you decide to come back; if not, then you might encounter difficulties.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Pierre Corneille
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re correct. The requirement is only if you wish to remain a citizen and retain your rights (voting, etc.). Should you wish to renounce your citizenship you can do so and then your tax liability ends at the date you do so. There are of course transfer of asset costs and the like, as well as laws about ownership of property and accounts.

        The 10 year thing is just about having your cake and eating it too.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    There are different degrees of libertarianism, some of which are more compatible with democracy than others. You speak of anarcho-libertarianism, in which there is functionally no government at all.

    I suspect that most libertarians would go along with a minimal state, to prevent and punish overt violence, and to enforce private contracts. The primary institutions of such a state would be judicial — judges hearing disputes and marshalls enforcing the judges’ orders — rather than executive or legislative.

    If pressed, many would reluctantly agree that some degree of compulsory taxation would be necessary to empower that minimal state to function effectively. They would seek strong and substantial guarantees that these would be the only things that state would do, and for a lot of them, democratic control over the institutions of that state would be the ultimate effective check on abuse of judicial power.

    Ultimately, these democratic libertarians would have to rely on not only their Constitutional safeguards against the creeping expansion of the state but rather on a culture that valued at a premium the state executing the minimum possible amount of power necessary to allow civilization to exist at all. Statist candidates for the office of democratic oversight on the anti-violence and contractual-enforcement duties of the minimal judicial state would not be elected in the first place, if the culture valued preservation of the minimal state.

    The thing is, I don’t think in the real world, large numbers of people really subscribe to such a cultural norm.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree. I’d add that after the first time someone, or their spouse, or parent or child couldn’t get health insurance due to a preexisting condition or couldn’t afford treatment, even after begging, there would be growing furtive shameful murmurs about some sort of collective solution to health care costs.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        There are furtive murmurs about whether everyone ought to have tools that let them access the internet.

        The existence of envy ought not be seen as an argument in itself.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Of course the envy of some high speed broadband is equivalent to HC.

          That envy would build towards….holy poop maybe something should be done. And then there would be one group of utterly pure people and others saying, “well what can actually work in this world” and ” are there examples of how others have done this well?” and a few noble souls saying ” Don’t you care about FREEDOM?”Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
            Ignored
            says:

            “Why don’t you have a job, moocher?”

            “Well, the best way to get a job nowadays is to find it on a web site, e-mail them your resume, and wait for them to e-mail you back a response. And since I can’t afford an internet connection…”

            “What, you looters want me to pay taxes on the measly $400K I clear every year to give you access? I’m a job creator!”Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not sure that the issue of “not enough people in a land of plenty having access to healthcare” needs to be framed as an “envy” issue.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Burt Likko
      Ignored
      says:

      Burt, of course. When I talk about libertarian anti-democracy I’m talking about logical conclusions, ideals, etc. Lots of libertarians are squishy on all sorts of things. That’s fine. It’s the philosophical underpinnings I’m gunning for here.Report

  5. Avatar George T
    Ignored
    says:

    greginak, why would something called “insurance” cover a pre-existing condition? Insurance is coverage against future risk, not past occurances, otherwise we would wait until after a car wreck to get car insurance. The insurance model entirely breaks down under that requirement.

    A more realistic fit to that scenario would be a guaranteed health loan that covers current and future bills, with payments extending into the future, just like a loan (whereas insurance payments were made in the past). You’d want to add in government guarantees, income-based support, and whatever else (since many health problems leave the borrower without future income), but those could be scaled to income, net-worth and other measures to prevent a free-rider problem and avoid a system where collection agencies beat up people in wheel chairs.

    One of the justified gripes of libertarians is that big, bureaucratic solutions force both parties in a health care decision into a corner, where neither is free to make adjustments on a case-by-case basis. One analysis of British health care prior to the NHS found that poor people still got health care, and got it for free. Doctors would overbill wealthy patients and use the excess to cover the costs for their poor patients, considering the arrangement just part of practicing medicine. The NHS flatenned the billing, using taxation to let the rich pay less and make the poor pay in. Doctors are no longer free to overbill and underbill to balance patients’ financial burdens to income based on their first-hand intimate knowledge of their patients.

    Since nobody used to leave the US to get Soviet health care, and Britain is thinking of turning the NHS over to a private German company, perhaps we shouldn’t be rushing to try a big government health system ourselves. They seem to have profound drawbacks.Report

    • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to George T
      Ignored
      says:

      The NHS flatenned the billing, using taxation to let the rich pay less and make the poor pay in.

      Don’t the UK’s progressive tax rates mean the rich pay more?

      prior to the NHS found that poor people still got health care

      This is based on my memory of a documentary the NHS: A Difficult Beginning, my understanding is that when the NHS was founded there was a rush of provision of certain basic health services because there had been an underprovision of those services prior to the founding of the NHS. The specific example I remember is optometry, many people got access to glasses who previously didn’t.

      Britain is thinking of turning the NHS over to a private German company

      Maybe you mean Tories are thinking of doing this, until recent elections they have never been the biggest boosters of the NHS, just as Republicans in the US can’t be said to be the most ardent fans of Social Security. I’m sure Labour’s plans for the health service are rather different.Report

  6. Avatar superdestroyer
    Ignored
    says:

    The U.S. is headed to becoming a one-party-state with the demographic collapse of the Republican Party. Of civil libertarians who are usually not libertarians at all but just a version of the nanny state (let me do what I want but have the government clean up any mess I create), will no longer have a place in politics. Do people really believe the growing public sector voters, the academic voters, the non-white voters are really going to vote for increasing individual liberty or are doing to vote for a bigger nanny state.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to superdestroyer
      Ignored
      says:

      the non-white voters

      No unhealthy obsessions there.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach in reply to superdestroyer
      Ignored
      says:

      Individual liberty, i.e. the liberty to live in poverty, squalor, and indigence.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to superdestroyer
      Ignored
      says:

      So many thoughts in this short paragraph, and not a one that I think even close to the mark. What makes you think the US is on its way to being a one party state?Report

      • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to Tod Kelly
        Ignored
        says:

        All non-white demographic groups vote for Democrats at above a 60% rate. Blacks vote for Democrats at a rate over 90%, Hispanics, 75%, Asians around 65%.

        The U.S is currently around 65% non-Hispanic white and the Republicans get around 52% of the white vote. However, since whites turn out at a higher rate, the Republican party can win a significant portion of elected office. However, as the percentage of the U.S. that is non-Hispanic white shrinks, the idea that any conservative party can survive is laughable. See how irrelevant the Republicans are in California and image what happens in the U.S. of tomorrow when it has the same demographics that the U.S. has today.

        So demographics changes will ensure that no conservative party survives. The only other qauestion is whether some green party to the left of the current Democratic Party can attract any non-white voters.Report

        • Avatar karl in reply to superdestroyer
          Ignored
          says:

          “See how irrelevant the Republicans are in California”…

          Due to California’s (and the U.S.’s) constitutional and/or operational veto points the Republicans have great relevance indeed. They are able to prevent Democrats from enacting legislation that is farther to the left than Eisenhower or Nixon might have initiated.Report

        • Avatar MFarmer in reply to superdestroyer
          Ignored
          says:

          Assuming that when blacks and hispanics become more successful they will be fine with redistribution and violation of individual rights.Report

          • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to MFarmer
            Ignored
            says:

            Income, profession, education, or locaiton have no effect on the voting preferences of blacks. Rich blacks are just as loyal Democrats as poor blacks. The only difference is that rich blacks turn out to vote at a higher rate.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer in reply to superdestroyer
              Ignored
              says:

              So, things never change? What has been always will be? You know the future voting patterns of blacks?Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to MFarmer
                Ignored
                says:

                Blacks have been voting for Democrats for over 50 years. Why would that pattern change. Why would any 18 y/o black interested in politics want to be a Republican. If a blacks is interested in politics, they have no other place to go other than the Democratic Party.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                Why would the Berlin Wall come down? Why would Republicans have a black candidate? Why would women have the right to vote?

                A young black who wants a job and greater opportunity in a competive market not rigged by the elite government/corporate enmeshment would vote for someone like Herman Cain if getting a job is his main concern. If civil liberties are more important, then he’s screwed unless he votes for an independent who cares about civil liberties but who is not yet running. This clumping together of blacks as if it’s a natural and permanent condition is the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.Report

        • Avatar George T in reply to superdestroyer
          Ignored
          says:

          The problem with that simple demographic analysis is that Hispanics are white (just as Italians and French are). The other problem is that their culture is very similar to American culture of the 1950’s, extremely religious and conservative.

          If the Democrats embrace them and their numbers grow sufficiently, the Democrat Party will become something more like Eisenhower era Republican. The Blacks are already very religious and conservative, as are a large part of the blue-collar union vote.

          As for liberals and progressives, they don’t reproduce in sufficient numbers to even maintain their current population.Report

          • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to George T
            Ignored
            says:

            50% of Hispanic children are born out of wedlock. Look at the economic and educational achivements of Hispanics. Hispanic vote for very liberal politicians.

            There is nothing 50-ish or conservative about Hispanics. In reality, Hispanics attend church no more than whites and much less than blacks (who are very liberal voters).

            There is nothing in Hispanic culture that makes that culture conservative (especially conservative).

            As the Democratic Party becomes the one dominate party, it will move to the left. Just look at the Democratic Party in Maryland, California, Detroit, Illinoins, etc. There is no reason for the Democrats to move right when blacks and Hispanics will vote for them no matter what.

            The only thing that could possibly move the Demcoratic Party to the right would be all of the former Republicans voting in the Democratic primary.

            In the long run, civil liberties will be unimportant in the coming one party state. Just look at the current state of California.Report

            • Avatar Herb in reply to superdestroyer
              Ignored
              says:

              Good ole superdestroyer. So having been banned by the OTB guys, you’re peddling your racist swill here now?

              N’awesome. I know one guy who’s not getting a visa to visit my seastead….Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to Herb
                Ignored
                says:

                Herb, any discussion of democracy and voting patterns must begin with demographics.

                Too many people keep writing about politics as if every vote the same way that their friends and neighbors vote without even thinking about different demographic groups.

                Why do progressive consider it racist to acknowledge that blacks have been very loyal Democrats for over 50 years Why do progressives consider it racist to point out that over 90% of elected Hispanics are Democrats (so much for being conservatives).

                The CAlifornia of today has the demographics that the rest of the U.S. will have in the future. And in the California of today, the Republicans are irrelevant. so why aren’t the Repubicans of tomorrow going to be irrelevant?Report

            • Avatar George T in reply to superdestroyer
              Ignored
              says:

              Why would a future with more Hispanics look like California instead of Texas, which has a higher percentage of Hispanics than California and twice the percentage of blacks?

              And aside from the urban areas of LA, San Francisco, and Oakland, California already votes almost completely Republican.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to George T
                Ignored
                says:

                Every state wide office in California is held by a Democrat. The last Republican running for governor spent $100 million and was not competitive. The Democrats totally dominate Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and most coastal countires. The margin of victory by Democrats in Los Angeles and northern California is huge.

                Texas only functions by being a low tax, low service states where most whites have realized that they only way to function is to keep Hispanics out of power. However, eventually, even Texas will turn to the Democrats as the Hispanic population continues to grow.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Democracy from ‘the weeds’ has given us Native American Genocide, Black Slavery, Mexican Cession, Chinese Exclusion, Japanese Internment, Jim Crow, Prohibition, the Marihuana Tax Act, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, most every other declared and undeclared war, Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, Arizona’s and Alabama’s anti-immigrant laws, the designated hitter rule, McD’s Happy meals, and the continuation of Two and Half Men on network TV.

    Other than that, it’s been hunky dory.Report

  8. Avatar James K
    Ignored
    says:

    You’ve raised some interesting points here Erik. I have a somewhat complicated relationship with democracy myself and I’ll probably put a post on the subject together over the weekend.Report

  9. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve come to generally view libertarianism as more of a valuable critique of other governing structures than as governing philosiphy in of itself. You could have a libertarian monarchy, a libertarian republic or a libertarian democracy but I’ve not really heard of the concept of a free standing Libertopia.

    That being said I do think the libertarian critique is a very valuable one and one that should be considered often.Report

  10. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    This strikes me as deeply confused. You’re trying to draw a false parallel between things like murder and robbery on the one hand, and the defense of individual rights on the other. Yes, technically if you announce plans to go out and murder somebody, and I forcibly restrain you, that’s coercion. But do you really not get the distriction between initiatory coercion on the one hand, and coercion for the sake of preventing initiatory coercion on the other?

    Yet for all that, the antipathy to democracy – which goes well beyond Hayek’s preferred “liberal dictatorship” – reveals the fundamental internal conflict within libertarianism: in order for it to exist as a model for society, democracy must be snuffed out through coercion.

    Only in the same sense in which murder and theft are snuffed out through coercion.

    I think you’re confusing things here through ambiguous language. “Democracy” is a vague, nebulous term that doesn’t really refer to any specific actions. To say that democracy must be snuffed out through coercion is well-nigh meaningless. Be more specific. What exactly is it that you think that libertarians want to force people to do?

    And while libertarians may say they don’t want to live in my welfare state either, at least I can say “Then go vote against it.” In Libertopia no such option would exist.

    This just isn’t true. If you wanted to set up a voluntary welfare state, you could. People would sign up, and you’d collect a monthly fee based on income or consumption, or whatever you want, and you’d pay out benefits.

    But under the current system, those of us who oppose the welfare state don’t have the ability to opt out. Which is why the excerpt above is not only wrong, but completely backwards. You want to compel everyone to participate in your schemes, whereas we’re happy to let people opt in or out as they see fit.

    And yeah, I get that your preferred way of doing things doesn’t work as well if you can’t compel the golden geese to participate. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?Report

    • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      You seem to have little to no understanding of the economics of social democracy.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      You want to compel everyone to participate in your schemes, whereas we’re happy to let people opt in or out as they see fit.

      You’ve got two ways of achieving thing in any kind of coherent way. 1, tiny collectives circumscribed by artificial boundaries that is both unstable and impossibly impractical; 2) constraining the democratic process from impinging on the ‘right’ of people to opt out of programs they don’t agree with, ie., preventing democratic participation from determining you disagree with.

      The latter exactly answers your earlier question: “What exactly is it that you think that libertarians want to force people to do?”

      Libertarian want to prevent people (via coercive state-sanctioned force) from using government to resolve pressing public policy issues which libertarians disagree with.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Wow is *that* comment garbled!Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          pressing public policy issues

          These issues include:

          Protecting Marriage.
          Protecting Children.
          Protecting the language.
          Protecting the culture.
          Protecting women from dangerous knowledge.
          Protecting men from competing with women.
          Protecting citizens from competing with undocumented angels.
          Protecting society from the scourge of marihuana.

          I could go on.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Each and every one of those is a legitimate subject of debate and public policy advocacy.

            Or do you disagree?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              OK. Maybe not the undocumented angels, unless you’re referring to west coast baseball players.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              There is quite a lot of beeswax that is not mine. As such, I’m pretty sure it’s none of your beeswax either.

              The fact that you can get three or four (or however many) people to agree that this beeswax is, in fact, your beeswax does not make this your beeswax.

              By turning this beeswax that is not yours into legitimate subjects of debate and public policy advocacy, you open the door for the assumed legitimacy of bans (or endorsements) of beeswax. It legitimates, for example, the “Christianist” (for lack of a better word) agenda by admitting that, yes, these things fall under the jurisdiction of the government rather than under an umbrella of privacy for the individual.

              Focus on your own beeswax.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Focus on your own beeswax.

                Oh, I don’t disagree with that. I just don’t think government has a role to play in telling people what constitutes their beeswax. What isn’t their beeswax.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, I think that this is one of the few legitmate roles of government.

                If there are some claims which are just illegitimate for me to make on you, and coercion is justified to prevent me from making those claims, then government coercion is justified in those circumstances. When the government says that other people’s religion is none of mybeeswax that is precisely one of the few things it is justified in doing.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            Isn’t telling me what I am and am not allowed to be concerned about kind of nannyish?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              Feel free to have your shit freaked by whatever freaks your shit best.

              The fact that your shit is freaked does not necessarily create a necessity for jurisdiction on the part of the government.

              If freaking out is your thing, you should go for it. You be you.

              It’s when you start setting up policies whereby folks get put on official lists or put in official prisons that I think that we need a much stricter policy in place than a shit-freakometer.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
          Ignored
          says:

          Blame the Alabama/Florida game.Report

      • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater – this, exactly.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        Libertarian want to prevent people (via coercive state-sanctioned force) from using government to resolve pressing public policy issues which libertarians disagree with.

        You’re still talking in vague generalities. And in doing so you make libertarianism sound much more sinister than it would if you were to be more specific: Libertarians want to stop people from forcibly taking money from certain groups of people and redistributing it to other groups of people, even if they do so through a democratic decision process. There are others, of course, but that’s the key point of contention with the left.

        Now, you can argue that that’s a bad thing, and that people should be allowed to do that. But when you start talking about coercively squelching democracy, you’re letting emotion-laden buzzwords do the heavy lifting instead of actual arguments.

        Whether that’s just a rhetorical ploy, or actually representative of your thoughts on the matter, I decline to speculate.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          It’s also worth noting that libertarians aren’t opposed to democratic decisionmaking when it comes to things that we regard as legitimately within the public sphere. No one individual can claim ownership rights over the army, for example, so what exactly we should do with the army can legitimately be considered a matter to be decided democratically. Ditto the police.

          Oh. Wait. Those are controlled democratically, with pretty lousy results. Hey! I have an idea! Let’s take the same decisionmaking process that produced those results, and apply it to other things. Things that don’t have to be controlled democratically, because there are market alternatives.

          Actually, scratch that. That’s your idea, not mine.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          Libertarians want to stop people from forcibly taking money from certain groups of people and redistributing it to other groups of people, even if they do so through a democratic decision process.

          Fair enough: this, then, will be the agreed upon operating principle of libertarianism.

          So, by hypothesis, libertarians want to stop ‘people’ (who? government generally? the executive branch? advocates of the policy government enacts? the legislature?) from ‘taking money’ (in the form of income taxes? excise taxes? FICA taxes?) from ‘certain groups of people’ (citizens generally? citizens of certain income brackets? fishermen and car owners because of the taxes on tackle box and tire purchases?) and ‘redistributing it to other groups of people’ (as welfare? as salaries for government jobs? for payment of the government office electric bills? in the form of private wages and private profits derived from infrastructure projects?).

          The general point you’re making is this: libertarians want to stop government from taxing a person and funneling those tax dollars into projects/salaries/profits/wages/welfare which the individual libertarian objects to. If so, then I think you’ve made my case for me.

          But I don’t think that’s what you meant. You oppose welfare. Fine. But you ought to just say that.Report

  11. Avatar Murali
    Ignored
    says:

    Not being able to vote on particular issues is coercive, property is coercive, taxation is coercive, government is coercive, no-government is coercive….

    The question is what are the right kinds of coercion if there are any. The first step to answering this requires us to eexamine what demands can people legitimately make on each other. The question of coercion is whether you can demand of me that I coerce some other into keeping only to legitimate demands.

    Quite clearly, then, if there is any logical way to resolve such conflicts, it must rely on some set of rules. It is also clear that there is more than one way of resolving such conflicts, i.e. more than one possible set of rules. For some notion of better, some rules are better than others. Of course, different notions of better would sort the rules differently. The question then, to ask is how do we resolve this conflict, as the conflict would seemingly move from claims to rules to principles. One thing we can note is that perhaps not so obviously, some ways of resolving conflict cannot be characterised by any set of rules at all. Or that some rules cannot be justified by any set of principles at all. But these are the obvious stupid-evil ones and we can ignore them for now. Rather, we want to know what the correct principles are.

    Some obvious obstacles to choosing the correct principles are the following:

    1. We may want to choose the principles to our own advantage. We want to avoid this, not because egoism is wrong or anything, but merely because different people making different claims would have their advantage lying in different ways. This would mean that different people would choose different principles. However this cannot be right as the principles apply to all equally.

    2. We may want to choose principles that align with our pre-existing moral judgments. But different people have different judgments and again this may result in disagreement about what the principles are and this is again problematic because we want to pick just one set of principles and say this is the most correct set that we know of now.

    Therefore, in order to do this, we obscure such infornation about ourself by setting up a veil of ignorance.Report

  12. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    Theoretically, the ideal libertarian society would have no democracy at all. That’s the only way to prevent collective decision making.

    Erik, I think you have an error in conflation here. Libertarians don’t necessarily want to prevent collective decision-making. They want to prevent collective decision-making that is binding on the dissenters (hence coerces them).

    To say they don’t want any collective decision-making is to say that they want to live in isolation. But libertarianism is so not-opposed to collective decision-making that it allows for communal living, so long as the dissenting individual can leave freely. (Granted, most libertarians wouldn’t personally go near a commune with a 50 foot pole.) But at a lesser scale, collective decision-making occurs all the time without coercion; via consensus. That gets extremely hard as groups get larger, to be sure. But it also remains easier to the extent we don’t demand collective decision-making over issues where values are very strongly held.

    But libertarianism as anti collective-decision-making? That, I think, is a fatal misconception.Report

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